Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 19, 2013 12:36 PM
It’s fitting that the world’s leading search company is looking for answers to aging and immortality.
Google is throwing its support behind Calico, a startup it is creating to focus on problems in the health care system that pertain to extending human life. Arthur Levinson, former CEO and current chairman of biotech pioneer Genentech and chairman of Apple’s board, is the newly-appointed CEO.
"Illness and aging affect all our families," Google CEO Larry Page said in blog post. "With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives."
If the idea sounds far off, that's because that's exactly what Calico plans on investing in. “In some industries, it takes ten or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Healthcare is certainly one of those areas,” Page said. "Maybe we should shoot for the things that are really, really important so ten or 20 years from now we have those things done.”Continue reading...
in it to win it
Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 17, 2012 02:02 PM
Young Emily Whitehead, who turned 7 in May, was saved from near death from leukemia after relapsing twice after chemotherapy – and with all viable options running out. In desperation, her parents sought experimental treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, using a disabled form of the virus that causes AIDS to reprogram her immune system genetically to kill cancer cells.
“She is the first child and one of the first humans ever in whom new techniques have achieved a long-sought goal — giving a patient’s own immune system the lasting ability to fight cancer,” reports The New York Times.
The treatment, developed at the University of Pennsylvania, the Times noted in a separate story, “may signify a turning point in the long struggle to develop effective gene therapies against cancer. And not just for leukemia patients: other cancers may also be vulnerable to this novel approach — which employs a disabled form of H.I.V.-1, the virus that causes AIDS, to carry cancer-fighting genes into the patients’ T-cells. In essence, the team is using gene therapy to accomplish something that researchers have hoped to do for decades: train a person’s own immune system to kill cancer cells.”
“Our goal is to have a cure, but we can’t say that word,” said Dr. Carl June, lead of the U Penn research team, echoed by his colleague, Dr. John Wagner, director of pediatric blood and marrow transplantation at the University of Minnesota, who said the Pennsylvania results were “phenomenal” and “what we’ve all been working and hoping for but not seeing to this extent. I think this is a major breakthrough.”
Cue Novartis, which has committed $20 million to building a research center on the university’s campus to ready the treatment for public consumption. In August 2012, Novartis acquired exclusive rights from Penn to CART–19, the therapy now known as CTL019. Unlike trials for commercial development of drugs like Viagra or cholesterol meds where millions consume the same drugs, Emma’s treatment requires a new batch of T-cells for each patient.Continue reading...
what's in a name
Posted by Shirley Brady on November 28, 2012 06:55 PM
Gilda Radner's Saturday Night Live character, Roseanne Rosannadanna, was famous for saying, "Well, it just goes to show — it's always something." Today, that something was a misleading headline on gossip site Gawker.com, which picked up a slightly misleading story from the Madison State Journal.
That story recounts the rebranding of a Gilda's Club chapter in Madison, Wisconsin, dropping the name of the cancer support organization established by Radner's husband, Gene Wilder, following her death from ovarian cancer in 1989. That chapter will adopt the name of Cancer Support Community, an organization that was founded by the merger of Gilda's Club Worldwide with the Wellness Community in November 2009, which became official in June 2011. That part is accurate; what's inaccurate is that the original story states that all Gilda's Club chapters will be adopting the CSC moniker "and the Gilda name will slowly go away."
The pioneering actress and comic, whose five-year run on SNL from 1975 to 1980 made her the Tina Fey/Sarah Silverman of her time, is an enduring icon to comedy-lovers worldwide. But Radner is also beloved for having inspired Gilda's Club. The original Gilda's Club location, a cozy brownstone with a cheery red door on Houston Street West in New York's Greenwich Village, is still active, as is the organization's mandate to provide free support and services to cancer patients and their supporters.
The CEO of Gilda's Club NYC told us they just celebrated their 17th anniversary and "would never change" their name, while CSC's EVP of external affairs also addressed the confusion and (see our update below) shared the organization's official statement on the matter.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 8, 2012 11:58 AM
When the news came out of the state of California a year ago that the stuff that makes your cola beverage brown has been linked to cancer, there were a number of consumers that likely didn’t put their change into the vending machine that day.
The amount of that compound (4-methylimidazole, or 4-MEI) in soda would cause the state to need to put warning labels on all of its cans, NPR reports. This, in turn, led to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to lobby the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “ban ammonia-sulfite caramel color,” according to NPR. Coke Clear, anyone?
While the cola companies and caramel manufacturers are obviously stating that there is no validity to these claims, the FDA is also chiming in that this could be much ado about not much. In any event, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, which account for almost 90% of the U.S. soda market, have tweaked their formulas in compliance with the Californian law — averting the need to add a cancer warning label.Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on February 22, 2012 01:25 PM
Battling counterfeit products is one of a brand's biggest headaches. More often than not, counterfeiting strikes luxury and accessory brands, since it is easier to sell fake branded handbags, shoes, and clothes online and in flea markets and bazaars around the world. But what about when buying a knock-off has life-or-death implications?
Fake products are penetrating an even more serious category than luxury goods — pharmaceuticals. America's Food and Drug Administration just announced the findings of the agency’s investigation of fake vials of the cancer drug Avastin that have showed up in California, Illionis, and Texas.
The FDA's tests indicated the vials did not contain Avastin's active ingredient, and traced the phony drug to the U.K. via a distributor in Tennessee. Reuters reported that the fake Avastin apparently originated in Cairo, Egypt and went from there through Switzerland to Britain. While the FDA was warned about the products by British officials late last year, it only confirmed that they were counterfeit last week. Cancer patients and medical practitioners, understandably, are up in arms.Continue reading...