Roche Enters Race to Cure Genetic Disease With $490 Million Deal

November 30, 2011

Roche Enters Race to Cure Genetic Disease With $490 Million Deal

Press Release | November 30, 2011 | By Robert Langreth

Roche Holding AG will pay as much as $490 million for experimental drugs from PTC Therapeutics Inc. to treat a genetic muscle-weakening disease, in a deal that sets up a race with rival Novartis AG.

The Basel, Switzerland-based drugmaker will pay closely held PTC Therapeutics $30 million up front, and another $460 million if a drug for spinal muscular atrophy achieves certain regulatory and commercial goals, the companies said today in a statement. PTC, based in South Plainfield, New Jersey, would also get royalties on sales of drugs from the collaboration.

Spinal muscular atrophy afflicts 18,000 people in the U.S. and Europe and causes progressive muscle weakness, according to the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation. Kids with severe cases die within a few years, while those with mild cases can live a normal lifespan with disabilities. There are no approved medicines to treat the causes of the rare disorder, said Luca Santarelli, senior vice president of neuroscience at Roche.

“There are absolutely no therapeutic options for these children,” said Santarelli in a phone interview. “It is a frightening disease.”

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A little lemonade for a little boy

August 16, 2011

A little lemonade for a little boy | August 15, 2011 | By Donna Barker

PRINCETON — Costumed children dancing down the sidewalk turned a lemonade stand into a lively fundraiser last week in Princeton.

Family and friends of Nolan Shofner, 8, of Princeton hosted the week-long fundraiser to raise money for research into Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a disease Nolan was diagnosed with when he was just 4 months old.

Nolan and his older brother, Blake, and a group of about 10 friends and family members helped to greet visitors at the lemonade stand each day, set up in front of his house on Elm Place. To attract the attention of passersby, the young people wore a variety of costumes, skateboarded down the sidewalk, put on impromptu dances, and waved people over to the stand.

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Coriell Institute and NIH Provide Scientists with Powerful New Stem Cells

June 27, 2011

Coriell Institute and NIH Provide Scientists with Powerful New Stem Cells

Press Release | June 27, 2011

CAMDEN, N.J. – Coriell Institute for Medical Research announced today the availability of powerful new stem cells to the scientific research community. These cells – called induced pluripotent stem cells – possess many of the important properties of embryonic stem cells. However, they bypass controversy as they can be made from skin cells or blood cells, avoiding the need to involve embryo-derived cells. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can multiply indefinitely and can become almost any type of cell in the human body. These cell lines, available through the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Human Genetic Cell Repository at Coriell, were derived from individuals with Huntington’s disease, juvenile onset diabetes, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, or severe combined immunodeficiency.

The demand in the research community for access to iPS cells is quickly growing. Coriell’s President and CEO, Michael F. Christman, Ph.D., recognizes the importance of incorporating this new technology into Coriell’s repertoire. “The promise of stem cell research lies in its application in understanding the progression of human disease, to better target therapies to optimize our health outcomes, and to ultimately use stem cells therapeutically to cure disease and reverse injury,” says Christman.

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RED hosts evening of events for disability awareness

April 12, 2011

RED hosts evening of events for disability awareness

The Daily Targum | April 12, 2011 | By Chase Brush

Students bowled blindfolded and raced using wheelchairs last night during the University’s first Disability Awareness Day, an event hosted by Rutgers Empowering Disabilities (RED), to celebrate Disabilities Awareness Month.

Representatives from disability advocacy organizations and New Jersey Metro Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society gave lectures on disabilities while RED performed skits about awareness in the Multipurpose Room of the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus.

“Disabilities are an extra obstacle that students have to overcome, and there was no organization that serves disabled individuals before, so we wanted to spread awareness as one of the University’s few disabilities groups,” said Vera Kiyanchenko, vice president and co-founder of RED.

RED aims to empower those with disabilities at the University and in the community, and provide them with sources of inspiration and motivation, said Kiyanchenko, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

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Quest Diagnostics to Acquire Athena Diagnostics, Establishing Leading Position in Rapidly Growing Neurology Testing Market

February 25, 2011

Quest Diagnostics to Acquire Athena Diagnostics, Establishing Leading Position in Rapidly Growing Neurology Testing Market

Press Release | February 25, 2011

MADISON, N.J., Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE: DGX), the world’s leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Athena Diagnostics, an esoteric laboratory specializing in genetic testing for neurological disorders, from Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) for $740 million in cash.

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The Nerdy Bird is the word

January 11, 2011

The Nerdy Bird is the word

Newsarama | January 11, 2011 | By Jill Pantozzi

Hey everyone! I’m Jill Pantozzi, otherwise known as The Nerdy Bird. If you’re a loyal Newsarama reader (and I know that you are) you’re probably already familiar with me. I contribute my op/ed column Hey, That’s My Cape! to the site weekly as well as a bunch of interviews and features along the way. But I’ve been told by some people it’s impossible to get enough of me so here I am making my first official appearance on Blog@.

This is my opportunity to introduce myself and the chance for you to get to know me a little better. Pretend this is our first date.

Why yes that is a DC superhero dress I’m wearing! I bought it on Etsy and it’s the best. Thanks for asking!

So what is there to know about Jill Pantozzi? Well for one, I run my own blog called “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” where I talk about all things nerdy including, but not limited to, comics, video games, movies and pop-culture. I started my blog in 2008 to get back into the swing of writing after working as a radio DJ for a few years.

From there I started writing for the Girls Entertainment Network and Comic Book Resources and eventually birthed Hey, That’s My Cape! at the now defunct Heartless Doll. I still contribute to their sister site, Topless Robot and am also a writer for MTV Splash Page and Publishers Weekly’s Comics Week. (You can find links to my work at those sites on my blog.)

Like I mentioned, along with other items here at Newsarama, I write HTMC! weekly and have recently joined the crew for Newsarama Radio and our video show, Need To Know. With all of that, I am certainly a happy nester, er, camper.

You can’t tell by looking at me but I’m affected by a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I can still walk but use a motorized scooter to get around most places. It was something I was born with that will be with me for the rest of my life unless a cure is found, which is something I’m constantly striving toward. I’m a Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and attend and speak at various fundraising events around my home state of New Jersey. In fact, if you’d like to help out there’s one coming up March 24 called Muscle Walk. You can help my team, The Nerdy Birds, reach their goal.

Click HERE or on the image below to read more…