Genentech CEO predicts strong year ahead after slow 2007

SAN FRANCISCO Genentech is announcing that it predicts a strong 2008 in terms of new products after dipping off last year following two years of tremendous success for the company, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We’ve been in a little bit of a quiet spot” after a run of new products from 2004 to 2006, chief executive officer Arthur Levinson said in a speech to the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference, which ended yesterday in San Francisco. But in 2008, he said, “That quiet spot will end.”

One drug that Genentech is hoping will be big in 2008 is Avastin, which the company is seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration as a first-line treatment for metastatic breast cancer that has migrated from its original site. The agency will rule on it next month.

The company is also working on new compounds to curb tumor malignancy and identify people who need such treatments.

One such approach seeks to trigger apoptosis, or programmed cell death, that could foil tumors ranging from lung cancer to lymphoma. Genentech is developing new weapons called Apo2L/Trail and ApoMab that aim to trigger self-destruction of cancer cells.

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