Reata plans fast growth, new hires; Petitioners plead for Arena drug approval;

 @FierceBiotech: Merck, Sanofi plot animal health unit sale. Article | | Follow @FierceBiotech

> Reata Pharmaceuticals has been one of the fastest growing biotechs in the country. And now that it has scored a $450 million licensing pact, CEO Warrenn Huff is planning on adding as many as 100 more new workers in the next 12 to 18 months. Story

> There's a petition making the rounds on the Internet aimed at persuading the FDA to overlook an advisory committee vote against Arena's weight drug. According to the anonymous authors of the petition, Pharmalot reports, regulators blew the data on cancer in animal studies out of proportion, confusing the experts. Of course, that's an argument that might not go over too well at the FDA. Report

> The FDA has extended its review of Salix's Xifaxan for irritable bowel syndrome. The new deadline is March 7. Report

> The FDA has approved Shionogi's non-stimulant medication Kapvay (clonidine hydrochloride) extended-release tablets, an extended-release oral formulation for the treatment of ADHD in children and adolescents ages 6-17 years. Shionogi release

> The Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a two-day public hearing on Nov. 2-3, 2010, on the implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009. FDA release

> Argenta Discovery has struck a drug discovery service agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica aimed at delivering new cancer drug candidates. Argenta will provide medicinal chemistry and biology for a number of Janssen oncology targets. The contract could be worth more than €33.5 million. Argenta release

And Finally... A team led by Jan Karlseder at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies reports that as cells count down to senescence and telomeres wear down, their DNA undergoes massive changes in the way it is packaged. These changes likely trigger what we call "aging." Release

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