Tobacco-based vaccine may be cure for some types of cancer
CHICAGO Researchers have developed a tobacco plant-based cancer vaccine capable of kick-starting the body’s immune response and being tailored to a patient’s specific tumor type, according to a new study.
While they have not yet determined whether the immune response is adequate enough to destroy the cancer, the researchers are hopeful that the technique could one day lead to a cure for at lease some types of the deadly disease.
“This would be a way to treat cancer without side effects,” said senior author Ronald Levy of the Stanford University Medical Center. “The idea is to marshal the body’s own immune system to fight cancer,” Levy said, adding that he’s optimistic he’ll get positive results from the next clinical trial.
Levy’s team tested the vaccine on 16 patients who were recently diagnosed with follicular B-cell lymphoma, a chronic, incurable disease. None of the patients experienced any significant side-effects and more than 70 percent of the patients developed an immune response, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.
This is the first time a plant-based cancer vaccine has been tested on humans. There have been a few trials of cancer vaccines developed with animal or human cells but they have had mixed results.
The vaccine works by, after researchers find the right target on the individuals’ tumor, they clone the genes from the patient’s tumor. Those genes are then injected into a virus, which naturally attacks tobacco plants. This virus is scratched onto the leaves of a tobacco plant and it becomes a “protein production factor,” Levy said. A week later, the leaves are ground up and then the protein is isolated and injected into the patient.
Winn-Dixie announces executive appointments
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie has announced the hiring of John Fegan, Dan Tobin and Peter Thomas to its pharmacy, development and real estate departments, respectively, in a effort to assist in the company’s turnaround.
Fegan has filled the position of vice president of pharmacy. In this position, he will work at overseeing the day-to-day and strategic operations of the company’s 400 plus pharmacy locations. Fegan mastered his skills in various key positions at Ahold USA which runs pharmacy locations under the banners: American Drug Stores, Pay’n Save Drug Stores, Gray Drug and Osco Drug.
Tobin joined Winn-Dixie as vice president of development. Tobin’s responsibilities include new store design and remodel initiatives. Prior to joining Winn-Dixie, Tobin held key positions at Albertsons and later at Brinker International, where he oversaw construction activities for casual-dining chains such as Chili’s, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, On The Border Grill & Cantina, and Maggiano’s Little Italy.
Thomas has assumed the title of vice president of real estate, is responsible for the development of the company’s new store capital and remodel initiatives. In this position he will work to increase market share within Winn-Dixie’s footprint. Thomas’ career includes time at well-known companies such as Big Y Foods, Purity Supreme Supermarkets, A&P, and McCarty-Holman Jitney Jungle.
GSK, Actelion sign development deal for insomnia drug
PHILADELPHIA and LONDON GlaxoSmithKline and the biotech company Actelion have signed a deal to develop an insomnia remedy drug, according to the Wall Street Journal.
GSK will pay Actelion $147.6 million upfront and then as much as $3 billion if the drug, almorexant gets approved for three market uses and hits “exceptional” sales targets. GSK and Actelion will split the profit from the drug’s sales in such markets as the U.S. and Europe, the companies said.
Almorexant is a new kind of drug, one that temporarily reduces levels of the brain chemical orexin, which is thought to help keep people awake. Sleep experts say the drug needs further study but could offer some benefits over Sanofi-Aventis’ blockbuster sleeping pill, Ambien, including fewer side effects.
If all goes well for GSK, almorexant could make it to the U.S. market by 2011 and could lead to sales of over $1 billion for GSK.