PHARMACY

Vical bird flu vaccine successful in phase I

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO A phase I study by Vical has found that its vaccine against avian influenza can protect against the virus, the company announced Thursday.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined 100 volunteers ages 18 to 45 who received two injections of the vaccine and found that 50 to 67 percent of patients receiving 0.5mg and 1mg doses of the vaccine had immune responses that could protect against the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

The vaccine is made from DNA derived from plasmids, small pieces of genetic material, and designed to provoke an immune response.

H5N1 originated in Asia and spread to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Of 385 people infected, 243 have died. Experts fear it could mutate into a form transmissible between humans and cause a global pandemic that would kill millions.

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ViroPharma to purchase Lev in $600 million-plus deal

BY Drew Buono

EXTON, Pa. ViroPharma will buy biotech company Lev Pharmaceutical, in a deal worth up to $617.5 million in cash and stock, according to published reports. ViroPharma will pay $442.9 million upfront and may pay an additional $174.6 million if Lev’s drug candidate Cinryze meets certain milestones.

In a conference call, ViroPharma chief executive officer Vincent Milano said peak sales of Cinryze could reach at least $250 million to $300 million per year if the drug is approved both as a preventive treatment and a treatment for acute cases.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing Cinryze as a preventive treatment for hereditary angioedema, which cause severe swelling, and a panel has recommended the drug be approved.

ViroPharma said about 10,000 people have the disease in the U.S., but only 4,600 have been diagnosed. This has led the FDA to grant Cinryze orphan drug status, which is given to medications that treat illnesses that affect less than 200,000 people in the U.S.

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Stomach infection may help prevent asthma

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON One of the biggest causes of ulcers and stomach cancer might also have potential to help people, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infections Diseases.

The researchers who conducted the study said Tuesday that Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which have recently been shown to cause the stomach illnesses, could prevent asthma in children.

The study examined data on 7,000 children from the National Health and Nutrition Survey and found that children aged 3 to 13 were 59 percent less likely to develop asthma if they had H. pylori, which infected 5.4 percent of children born in the 1990s.

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