June 1, 2009
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Last week, CSL heard from the Federal Trade Commission that the agency is opposed to CSL’s proposed $3.1 billion merger with Talecris Biotherapeutics.
Don’t worry, CSL, Health and Human Services still loves you. To the tune of a $180 million order for CSL’s H1N1 swine flu vaccine bulk antigen. HHS will also fund the clinical trials.
May 14, 2009
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Ontario reported 36 new cases of Swine Flu today. All cases are still considered mild, although one patient was hospitalized for unrelated reasons.
I thought this would be a good time to look back at the Ontario press releases and plot the number of new cases reported since Ontario started releasing numbers on April 28th. When I did that, the plot was very erratic, so I took a 3-day rolling average. Here it is:
We’ll see where this goes over the next few days.
Ontario confirms 13 new cases as of Wednesday afternoon, bringing the total to 49 in the province, all considered mild. A lot of the public health messaging over the last 48 hours has been advising people not to relax too much.
Today also saw an interesting Canadian development on the scientific front. Although commentary around the different numbers of flu deaths in Mexico versus other areas has included the possibility that there are genetic variations in the virus, genetic differences do not appear to be responsible. Researchers at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg sequenced Mexican and Canadian isolates and found no significant differences. According to Dr. Frank Plummer, the chief science adviser of the national lab:
“Essentially, what it appears to suggest, is that there is nothing at the genetic level that differentiates this virus that we got from Mexico and those from Nova Scotia and Ontario, that explains apparent differences in disease severity between Mexico and Canada and the United States.”
Also, speaking of not relaxing too much, the FDA just announced that they have approved a new Sanofi Pasteur vaccine manufacturing facility in Swiftwater, PA.
March 13, 2009
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Training Brains: Sheena Josselyn’s lab at SickKids specifically erased a fear memory in mice by selectively ablating CREB neurons using an inducible diptheria toxin. Let me break this down, because it’s so unbelievably cool:
- they trained mice to be afraid of a sound,
- then they destroyed some specific cells in the brains of the mice,
- then the mice forgot that they were afraid of the sound.
The mice were subsequently able to learn new things, like how to find cheese in a maze, and were even able to learn to be afraid of the same sound again. Between this and the mind-reading experiment in the UK this week, it’s enough to give you a serious bout of insomnia … which often lasts over a year, according to researchers at Laval.
Gout Rout: Dr. Hyon Choi and colleagues at the University of British Columbia reported in Monday’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, that Vitamin C appeared to lower the levels of uric acid in the blood, and that men who take in more vitamin C appear to be less likely to develop gout, a painful type of arthritis.
Beef Relief: Researchers using Bioniche’s E. coli O157 vaccine, Econiche™, published a study in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease showing that vaccinated cattle were 92% less likely to be colonized with E. coli O157:H7 than non-vaccinated cattle (odds ratio (OR)=0.07, p=0.0008). This is the second published study demonstrating more than 90% effectiveness of the Bioniche vaccine against colonization.
- Michael Taylor’s lab at SickKids discovered a family of eight genes that are mutated in patients with the most common childhood brain cancer. The research is published in Nature Genetics.
- Hans Knecht at Université de Sherbrooke, Sabine Mai at the University of Manitoba and colleagues published a paper in Leukemia identifying cytological changes associated with the transition from mononuclear Hodgkin cells (H cells) to diagnostic multinuclear Reed–Sternberg cells (RS cells), a critical step in the development of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- A group out of British Columbia published a study supporting the use of Resonant Medical’s Clarity system for the effective planning and treatment of breast cancer. Resonant Medical (Montreal, Canada) develops, manufactures and commercializes 3D ultrasound image-guided adaptive radiotherapy products.
- The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer study, a 30-year cancer study involving 300,000 Canadians, was announced nationally last summer, and is now underway in Atlantic Canada. Dr. Louise Parker of Dalhousie University and the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre is the principal investigator in the Atlantic region for the $42-million project. The study will gather massive amounts of information about what patients eat, exercise, their body shapes, weight, etc.
- According to a study in Lancet Oncology by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Brain Tumour and Radiation Oncology Groups and the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group, nearly 10 percent of brain cancer patients who received radiation in combination with chemotherapy were still alive five years after diagnosis, the best long-term survival rate ever reported for a group of patients stricken with the aggressive tumor. This treatment parallels the approach used by cancer specialists to treat Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), who was diagnosed in May with a malignant brain tumor.