Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Improved detection of the influenza virus...New candidate for the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia enters the clinic:

DailyUpdates 24th May, 2006: With the threat of influenza hanging over our heads on a seemingly continuous basis, improving the ability to rapidly and accurately identify patients infected with influenza and furthermore the strain of virus remains paramount. Today we feature research from CombiMatrix concerning their activities in this area. We also headline news coming out of Denmark's Genmab announcing the advance of HuMax-CD20, the company's CD20 monoclonal, into the clinic for the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Access to these two articles plus a full listing of all of today's featured items can be made here

Improved detection of the influenza virus: The influenza virus continues to pose a significant public health problem. Vaccines represent the primary foil against this infectious disease with annual sales predicted to rise to $3.7 billion by 2010 (for a detailed analysis of this market see our featured report: Influenza Vaccines). Despite the use of vaccines, influenza still infects 10-20% of the global population every year causing up to 500,000 deaths. Improved therapeutics for the treatment of at risk infected individuals is thus required, however for optimal treatment, more rapid and accurate subtype identification is required. Ideally new point of care diagnostic tools are required to facilitate rapid treatment either in a primary care setting or at remote locations (for an analysis of POC tools see Point Of Care Diagnostic Testing World Markets). Today’s featured report presents data on CombiMatrix’s semiconductor-based DNA chip technology. The technology is based on a semiconductor adapted for biological applications and is comprised of multiple chambers, each of which is able to synthesis in situ and under the control of a PC, a specific reagent. In the case of the influenza diagnostics the reagents are oligonucleotides synthesized to react with the viral genome. This allows rapid detection and accurate typing of flu strains; the system is able to recognize hemagglutinin subtypes 1 through 15 and neuraminidase subtypes 1 through 9. This system is currently available as an R&D tool or as a service from CombiMatrix. Further development is expected to lead to the availability of a field deployable biodetector. Also described in today’s feature is the adaptation of the technology to facilitate enzymatic assay that can be used for sequencing, thereby facilitating the detection of novel strains of influenza.

New candidate for the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia enters the clinic: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is the most common leukemia in adults in the US and most of Western Europe . The incidence is 8,100 to 12,500 new cases in the US per year and 85-95% of the cases are of B-cell origin. CLL is a subgroup of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and together with small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) corresponds to around 20% of all NHL cases. Prolonging disease-free survival in chronic leukemia relies on the eradication of minimal residual disease and the treatment of refractory disease driving the development of novel pharmacotherapy (see Chronic Leukemias - Curative Intent Raises the Bar). First line treatment of CLL generally involves the use of nucleoside analogs and especially fludarabine which produce overall responses in as many as 80% of patients and complete remission in 37%. Therapy with monoclonal antibodies has been evaluated in patients with CLL and the most useful agent in clinical trials so far appears to be CAMPATH-1H (alemtuzumab), an antibody directed at CD52. The goal for developers of novel CLL pharmacotherapy is to innovate drug treatments that can salvage patients refractory to CAMPATH-1H. Today’s headline press release concerns the development of one such agent, Genmab’s HuMax-CD20 (ofatumumab). The company announce the start of a Phase III pivotal study of approximately 100 CLL patients who have failed treatment with fludarabine and CAMPATH-1H or who have failed fludarabine and are intolerant to or ineligible for alemtuzumab.


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