Merck inks $145M genomic analysis contract, sells lab; Inovio shares soar on swine flu study results;

> Covance has struck a deal to buy Merck's Gene Expression Laboratory in Seattle. The lab is part of Merck's Rosetta Inpharmatics, which is being dismantled. In the deal, Merck agreed to pay $145 million over five years to purchase genomic analysis services. Report

> After a year of trading below $1, shares of Inovio Biomedical soared to $3.18 yesterday. The revival was sparked by the San Diego based company's announcement of positive results from animal studies of the company's H1N1 vaccine, SynCon. Report

> AstraZeneca has submitted an NDA to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a Marketing Authorization Application to the European Medicines Agency for Zactima, (vandetanib 100 mg) as a combo therapy with chemotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer in patients previously treated with one prior anti-cancer therapy. Release

> The small UK Biotech Cambridge Biostability has reportedly gone bust. Report

> Novartis has struck a deal to use Forma Therapeutics' cell-based screening platform in its cancer research work. Story

> Australia's Living Cell Technologies has raised $4.2 million (Australian) to fund new clinical trials. Report

Pharma News

> Mystery donor to the rescue. The first Neurontin trial is kaput, thanks to some secret moneybags who set up a trust for the daughter of suicide victim Susan Bulger. Report

> Continuing medical education (CME) has been bastardized by pharma funding, an HHS inspector general told Congress, and needs a complete overhaul. CME report

> The economy hasn't hurt AstraZeneca as much as it anticipated. A couple of lucky breaks--including a delay in generic competition for the cardio drug Toprol XL--helped push second-quarter profits up past analyst estimates to $1.64 per share, excluding some one-time items. Report

> s official: Sanofi-Aventis is buying the rest of Merial, its animal health joint venture with Merck. Price tag: $4 billion. Sanofi report

> The H1N1 flu vaccine may be ready sooner than we thought. U.S. Officials say antigen yields have increased, and the first round of shots could be ready in September, rather than in mid-October, Bloomberg reports. Forty million doses will be up for grabs first, then another batch of 80 million. Report

Vaccine News

> A personalized metastatic melanoma vaccine significantly improved the survival rates of a group of people afflicted by metastatic melanoma. Report

> The Dutch biotech Crucell has picked up financial support for its malaria vaccine program through a newly inked collaboration with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and USAID's Malaria Vaccine Development Program. Report

> The U.S. has ordered 195 million doses of swine flu vaccine from five different developers. While many companies are reportedly having trouble growing enough of the H1N1 virus to produce ample doses of a vaccine, AstraZeneca seems to be ahead of the race to deliver on its $150 million contracts. AstraZeneca report

And Finally... Fears about swine flu have spurred more than 3,000 people so far to volunteer to take part in upcoming clinical trials of a new vaccine. That's already more than the number scientists will need at eight different sites around the U.S. Report

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