Avastin works against ear-nerve tumors; New Elder Pharma unit to target rural India;


> Roche's Avastin shrank tumors growing along the nerves leading to the ears, improving the hearing of patients with a rare tumor, researchers found. Report

> Elder Pharmaceuticals has set up a new division to market its drugs in small-town and rural India, with plans to boost its sales force to about 750 by 2012. Report

> Polish drugmaker Bioton expects $1.5 billion to $2 billion in revenues from the 15-year contract to allow Germany's Bayer to distribute its insulin in China. Report

> Roughly a fourth of American women getting early abortions last year did so with drugs rather than surgery, statistics show, as a new study reported improved safety in using the so-called "abortion pill." Report

> India's Cipla has received notice from a government agency demanding 665.8 million rupees ($13.6 million) for alleged overpricing of two drugs. Report

> GlaxoSmithKline said Alnylam Pharmaceuticals will contribute more than 1500 patents on its RNA interference (RNAi) technology to the patent pool GSK established to facilitate new treatments for 16 neglected tropical diseases. Report

> Two groups of Illinois residents sued five companies, including Pfizer and Pharmacia, over the release of various substances they claim have created a severe health risk and have contaminated their properties. Report

> Gilead Sciences will create 30 jobs over the next two years at its Irish manufacturing, packaging and distribution center. Report

> New Zealand is suffering the worst influenza season in more than a decade, spurred by a surge in cases of swine flu, which is supplanting the winter strains. 

Biotech News

> Amgen shares got a big boost after the biotech giant posted new late-stage data on denosumab demonstrating that the bone drug outperformed a competing therapy from Novartis. Amgen piece

> Shares of Aryx Therapeutics were pummeled in premarket trading after the company announced that its trial comparing the experimental blood clotting drug tecarfarin failed to demonstrate superiority over warfarin, a standard treatment. Aryx report

> Targacept landed a $10 million milestone from AstraZeneca as the pharma company pursues plans to continue development of Targacept's ADHD therapy, which recently wrapped a successful mid-stage trial. Report

> Two stem cell technology start-ups have agreed to merge, snagging an additional $11.5 million in fresh venture funds in the process. Report

> NanoBio is announcing later this morning that it closed a $22 million Series B after its major shareholder, Perseus, and Venture Investors put up an additional $10 million. NanoBio article

 > Novartis has dropped out of its collaboration to develop NexMed's topical treatment for nail fungus as its partner simultaneously announced that a comparative study with a treatment now in use in Europe failed to deliver the results they needed to file for marketing approval. Novartis report

Vaccine News

> A team of virologists at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have genetically engineered a new rabies vaccine that appears to work after a single jab. Report

> GlaxoSmithKline has cleared a key hurdle for gaining wider use of its cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix, winning the World Health Organization's approval to offer the jab in developing countries. Report

> The USDA has approved the first new vaccine to protect dogs from the H3N8 flu virus. Report

And Finally... The immunosuppressant rapamycin (sirolimus or Rapamune) delayed aging in experiments with mice. Could it do the same in people? Report