Congress mulls faster reg process for new drug classes; New gene treatment envisioned for deafness

Stem Cell Research

> Scientists in Leeds, U.K. and Berlin have found a defect in the MEGF10 gene in families with children who suffer from a progressive muscle disease. The finding, conducted with next-generation DNA-sequencing technology, has helped them learn more about the function of muscle stem cells. MEGF10 usually helps repair muscle fibers once they're damaged. Details are in the journal Nature Genetics. Release

> The success of a stem cell transplant to regrow bone and tissue may ultimately depend on a patient's immune system, researchers have University of Southern California researchers have found. They discovered that an infusion of regulatory T-cells in mice helped decrease the creation of cellular proteins that killed the stem cell implants. Their study is published in Nature Medicine. Release

Cancer

> It turns out there are two genetic rearrangements that appear to drive as much as 7% of all breast cancers, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have found. The discovery, published initially in Nature Medicine online, could give new scientists new drug targets. Release

> Cancer cells detach from a primary tumor and flow throw the blood stream in order to seed new tumors. But very few tumor cells can be found in the blood. Researchers at the University of Chicago may have found a way to remove these cells by using biomolecules bound to dendrimers--highly branched synthetic polymers--in order to sift and capture them. Release

Genetics

> U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, explains he wants to prevent the FDA from regulating genetic tests developed in laboratories because he sees the action as hampering innovation. Burgess has introduced a bill that would block the FDA's move. Story

> It turns out that mutating sensory hair cells in the inner ear prevents sound waves from being turned into electric signals, altering a first step toward hearing. That finding, discovered by Children's Hospital Boston and NIH researchers, will enable the launch of a gene therapy test to reverse a type of deafness. Details of the finding are in the Nov. 21 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Release

Research Funding

> Some in Congress are contemplating a speedier regulatory process for new drugs that address unmet needs. The discussions, supported in part by the industry trade group BIO, are part of talks on reauthorizing the fees drug companies pay FDA to fund the review process, Bloomberg reports. Story

> Eily Lilly ($LLY)is committing $4 million toward the Infectious Disease Research Institute's ongoing effort to identify new treatments for tuberculosis.The drug company will also donate researcher time and grant access to its chemical libraries and research tools. Release

General

> Osteoarthritis appears to develop when a group of proteins that move freely through the bloodstream, known as the complement system, malfunctions, researchers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have found. Their work, published online in Nature Medicine, determined that one part of the system known as the membrane attack complex improperly forms and activates in joints of both humans and mice that have osteoarthritis, causing inflammation and producing enzymes that break down cartilage. Release

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