Astellas gets Japan's nod for new Prograf use; Takeda sues to stop Actos copy;

> Astellas Pharma won approval to sell its key transplant drug Prograf in Japan as a treatment for severe ulcerative colitis, a form of intestinal inflammation. Report

> Takeda Pharmaceutical sued India's Torrent Pharmaceuticals to prevent it from selling a copy of the Actos diabetes pill in the U.S. until 2016. Report

Danish pharma Lundbeck has agreed to buy Britain's LifeHealth for $147 million, to acquire rights to a treatment related to Huntington's Disease, and privately owned Danish biotechnology firm NeuronIcon, to gain technologies for treating brain damage. Report | Report

> The FDA is moving to speed up access to experimental drugs for Gaucher disease to help offset likely shortages of Cerezyme, the top-selling drug made by Genzyme. Report

> Celgene asked Japanese regulators to approve its blood cancer drug Revlimid for use in combination with dexamethasone. Release

> Cardinal Health and McKesson have renewed contracts to distribute drugs to their largest customer--CVS Caremark--in deals that keep the accounts largely intact yet are less favorable to the two wholesalers than the previous pacts. Report

> Shares of Matrixx Initiatives fell Monday after the company disclosed several class action lawsuits related to its withdrawn cold treatment Zicam. Report

> Bristol-Myers Squibb last week notified 25 people who work in or support its small manufacturing operations near Syracuse, N.Y., that the company had cut their jobs. Report

> Pfizer will invest €11 million ($15.3 million) in a new kilo technology R&D laboratory at its API manufacturing facility in Ringaskiddy, Ireland. Report

Biotech News

> Now that the economic crisis has dried up funding for many developers, nonprofit disease foundations are being turned to as a lifeline for struggling biotechs. Report

> The FDA has given Oxford BioMedica a clear path to test its late-stage therapeutic vaccine TroVax for a variety of cancers, and the company has enthusiastically responded with plans to advance ongoing partnering discussions on the program. Report

> Hit with a sudden shortage of drugs for Gaucher's disease, Protalix announced this morning that the FDA had approached the company to start providing its experimental therapy prGCD to patients under an expanded access program. Report

> Ipsen CEO Jean-Luc Belingard is plagued by the abundance of promising drugs in his pipeline. "We have enough products in early development, we may even have too many," he tells Bloomberg in an interview. Report

> Israel's BiolineRx has licensed its early-stage BL-1040 heart attack therapy to Ikaria for $285 million in upfront fees and milestones. But Israel's chief scientist will have to sign off on the pact as the country backed the development program in an incubator project. Report

Research News

> Scientists at Harvard have found a master human heart cell that provides the basic building blocks for three types of heart tissue. And the discovery can swiftly open a new avenue for more efficient drug discovery work in the cardiovascular arena as well as open a new avenue for researchers exploring ways to repair damaged hearts. Report

> It turns out that ghrelin signaling may play a much bigger role than just encouraging overeating. New research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden suggests that blocking ghrelin signals may also help control alcohol addiction. Report

> The Bush administration's clampdown on embryonic stem cell research came to a formal end yesterday with a new set of rules for the field that will broaden federal funding to hundreds of embryonic stem cell lines created by private groups over the past seven years. Report

> A genetic flaw in the makeup of the H1N1 flu virus helps explain why the new flu spreads less efficiently than seasonal flu. Scientists for MIT and the CDC say that a surface protein in the virus is not highly proficient at binding to receptors in the human respiratory tract. And that design defect has slowed its transmission around the world. Report

> A newly discovered cellular flaw that appears to play a big role in promoting metastasis in relapsed lung cancer cases offers a big target for drug developers. Report

And Finally... The United Nations may need more than $1 billion this year to help poor countries fight the global swine flu epidemic. Report