Egypt Independent: Science-Main news http://www.egyptindependent.com//enhome_channel/Environment/rss.xml en AstraZeneca hit after psoriasis drug linked to suicide fears http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2450925 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/05/26/501184/astrazeneca_hit_after_psoriasis_drug_linked_to_suicide_fears.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" /><p>AstraZeneca&#39;s (<a href="http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview?symbol=AZN.L"><span id="symbol_AZN.L_0">AZN.L</span></a>) hopes of topping $45 billion in revenue by 2023 have been dealt a blow by a problem with an experimental psoriasis drug that the drugmaker had viewed as a potential billion-dollar plus seller.</p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Amgen (<a href="http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview?symbol=AMGN.O"><span id="symbol_AMGN.O_1">AMGN.O</span></a></span>), its partner on the project, announced late on Friday it was ending a collaboration to develop brodalumab after suicidal thoughts were observed in patients taking the medicine.</p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Shares in AstraZeneca fell 1 percent on Tuesday in the wake of the news, following a long holiday weekend in Britain.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Deutsche Bank analyst Richard Parkes said the setback was a surprise and terminating the drug&#39;s development would hit long-term consensus forecasts for AstraZeneca&#39;s earnings by around 2 percent.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Although the British group said it was still considering whether to scrap the product or continue on its own, the drug&#39;s prospects now seem badly tarnished with Amgen declaring that safety concerns would likely result in restricted use.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_5">AstraZeneca and Amgen have been sharing development of brodalumab since 2012 as a treatment for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis. It works by blocking a molecule involved in inflammation called interleukin-17 (IL-17).</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_6">Novartis (<a href="http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview?symbol=NOVN.VX"><span id="symbol_NOVN.VX_2">NOVN.VX</span></a></span></span>) already markets a psoriasis drug called Cosentyx that binds to a related protein, IL-17A, without any problems involving suicidal thoughts, and Eli Lilly (<a href="http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview?symbol=LLY.N"><span id="symbol_LLY.N_3">LLY.N</span></a>) has a rival in development.</p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_7">Barclays analysts said AstraZeneca might still decide to continue development on its own, but with the Novartis drug showing a clean bill of health and Eli Lilly aiming to submit its IL-17 for approval by mid-year &quot;the commercial perspectives are clearly very challenging&quot;.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_8">AstraZeneca gave its long-term $45 billion sales forecast a year ago when it was fending off a takeover bid by Pfizer (<a href="http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/overview?symbol=PFE.N"><span id="symbol_PFE.N_4">PFE.N</span></a></span></span>). It said at the time that estimates for annual brodalumab sales were between $500 million and $1.5 billion.</p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_9">The company made $26 billion of revenues last year.</span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p> Tue, 26 May 2015 13:04:00 +0000 Reuters 2450925 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/26/501184/astrazeneca_hit_after_psoriasis_drug_linked_to_suicide_fears.jpg Solar Impulse 2 flight postponed http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2450908 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/03/18/501010/solarplane_03-18-15.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The team responsible for the Solar Impulse 2 plane announced it was delaying a trip planned for Monday because of fluctuations in weather over the Pacific Ocean.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The risk of unstable weather caused the postponement of the flight towards its seventh destination, a distance of 5,080 miles by plane. The plane operates without the use of fossil fuels, the team said in a statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The plane was supposed to kick off on Monday from the Chinese city of Nanning and head to Hawaii on a trip expected to take 120 continuous hours.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The plane started its 12-stage journey on March 9 from Abu Dhabi, UAE. The total number of days in flight is expected to be 25 days, with an average speed of 100 km per hour.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div> Tue, 26 May 2015 13:00:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2450908 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/03/18/501010/solarplane_03-18-15.jpg Fight over hot new cholesterol drugs may be won in milligrams http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2450914 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/05/26/501184/fight_over_hot_new_cholesterol_drugs_may_be_won_in_milligrams.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Two powerful and innovative cholesterol drugs likely to be approved this summer both target the same protein and have been shown to sharply lower LDL in high-risk patients. &nbsp;But there is at least one significant difference between the two offerings: the dosages in which they will be sold.</p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Assuming approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Amgen Inc. will offer its drug, Repatha,&nbsp;as a biweekly 140 mg injection or a monthly injection of 420 mg, while Praluent, from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Sanofi, will be offered in biweekly injections of 75 mg or 150 mg.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">The difference in dosages is likely to lead to very different sales strategies for the two drugs, in what could be a fierce competition for market share. Amgen&#39;s high-dose monthly injection could be seen as more convenient and might appeal to doctors because of its higher potency. Regeneron and Sanofi could enjoy a significant pricing advantage with their low-dose option.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Both drugs belong to a new class of antibodies that target PCSK9, a protein that maintains &quot;bad&quot; LDL cholesterol in the blood, and are aimed at the millions of people who don&#39;t benefit from statins. Statin pills, like Pfizer Inc&#39;s Lipitor, work very differently, blocking the liver&#39;s production of LDL cholesterol.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Neither Amgen nor Regeneron/Sanofi would talk about possible pricing of their new drugs, but some industry experts suggest that low-dose Praluent will be priced significantly below Repatha to make it more attractive to health insurers who have become increasingly aggressive about keeping medication costs down.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Dr Jennifer Robinson, a University of Iowa epidemiologist and lead researcher on clinical trials of Praluent, believes Sanofi and Regeneron &quot;would be crazy not to&quot; price its 75 mg dose below the 150 mg option.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">&quot;Sanofi will say you can start off at this cheaper, lower dose,&quot; Robinson said. &quot;If you don&#39;t reach the LDL goal, you can move up&quot; to a higher dose, at the higher price.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Sanford Bernstein analyst Geoffrey Porges predicts that lower-dose Praluent will cost $5,000 a year, with the higher dose at $10,000. He estimates Repatha&#39;s price at $10,000 per year for both the biweekly and monthly versions. Manufacturers do not necessarily charge less for lower doses of a medication.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">Amgen&#39;s high-dose injections could be appealing in light of recent clinical data that has shown that keeping LDL very low can better protect against heart attack and stroke in high risk patients.&nbsp;Trial data has shown that both drugs produce greater LDL reductions in higher doses.</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1">&quot;It goes back to the patients we are trying to serve - patients with elevated, very high LDL cholesterol,&quot; said Scott Wasserman, Amgen&#39;s head of cardiovascular and metabolic therapies. &quot;We didn&#39;t feel that a low dose option would serve those patients.&quot;</span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_10">The FDA is due to decide on approval for Praluent by July 24 and on Repatha by Aug. 27. The agency, which has convened expert panels on June 9 and 10 to review both drugs, could also issue a joint decision.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_11">The two PCSK9 drugs are each expected to generate about $2.5 billion in annual sales by 2020, according to Wall Street estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters Cortellis. Some predict total sales for the class rising to $20 billion by 2026.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_12">PRICE MATTERS</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_14">In March, new clinical trial data showed that both Repatha and Praluent, combined with statins, reduced LDL levels dramatically, cutting in half the risk for heart attack, stroke, and other major cardiovascular problems. Sanofi/Regeneron and Amgen are conducting larger trials to confirm the benefits of PCSK9 drugs in reducing cardiovascular risks.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_15">Industry experts note that there are many unanswered questions about the market for the drugs, including how widely the FDA will allow them to be used, how aggressively cardiologists will seek to lower LDL and whether other differences between them will emerge from the larger trials that will yield results in 2017.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_0">Some see Sanofi having an advantage purely due to its larger marketing force among heart doctors. Another possible factor in which drug will dominate the market is the success or failure of a lawsuit Amgen has brought against Sanofi and Regeneron for alleged patent infringement.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_1">But in the meantime, with the main merits of the two drugs appearing nearly equal, their comparative dose and price will become much more important differentiators.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_2">Health insurers &quot;are likely to view this as a class, one is the same as the other,&quot; said Les Funtleyder healthcare portfolio manager for ESquared Asset Management, which does not own shares in any of the three drugmakers. &quot;You could have a case where if payers pay, they&#39;ll only pay for one rather than the other.&quot;</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_3">Express Scripts Holding Co is the largest U.S. manager of pharmacy benefit plans and successfully pressed for price reductions on novel hepatitis C drugs earlier this year.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_4">Its chief medical officer, Dr. Steve Miller, said in an interview that $10,000 per year for a new cholesterol drug is &quot;an extraordinarily high price.&quot; As many as 15 million Americans are estimated to have high cholesterol that cannot be controlled by statins.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_5">&quot;We are bullish on the health benefits, but they have to bring value,&quot; Miller said, adding that pricing would be a major factor in recommending either Praluent or Repatha for coverage.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_6">Dr Steven Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, said he is most concerned about effectiveness: &quot;What counts is how much you can lower LDL cholesterol,&quot; he said.</span></span></p><p><span id="midArticle_1"><span id="midArticle_7">But he acknowledges that if the lower dose also had a lower price, &quot;there might be some people who find that appealing,&quot; Nissen said.</span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p> Tue, 26 May 2015 12:00:00 +0000 Reuters 2450914 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/26/501184/fight_over_hot_new_cholesterol_drugs_may_be_won_in_milligrams.jpg Archaeologist calls for first underwater museum in Egypt http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2450892 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/05/26/39/underwater.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Bassem Ibrahim, head of the museum zones department affiliated to the central department of submerged antiquities, has called for the establishment of the first underwater museum in Alexandria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a cultural event held by Alexandrina Bibliotheca on Monday, Ibrahim said the project will be a culturally entertaining one that will completely change tourism in Egypt.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;After the Mediterranean Sea submerged ancient Alexandria as result of an earthquake, excavation works have helped to recover thousands of relics that date back to different historic eras like the pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Romanian and Islamic.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Doubles of these relics are still underwater, which led us to think about the first underwater museum in Egypt. According to our designs, it will be a glass one,&rdquo; he added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among the obstacles that face the project, Ibrahim included &ldquo;the wide areas of submerged antiquities underwater, the necessity of having a large number of archaeological divers to carry out periodic maintenance. Also, ships and sailing boats will be banned from navigating above the museum area.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mona Mokhtar, a tour guide who holds a master&#39;s degree on maritime museums said, &ldquo;My master&#39;s thesis came down to the fact that 65 percent of tourists in the world look for entertainment, while 10 percent search for culture and 25 percent for other reasons, including treatment.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Constructing the first underwater museum in Egypt will be a mix between entertainment and cultural tourism, as it will offer diving and historic information on the story of Egypt&#39;s submerged antiquities and the eras they belong to,&rdquo; Ibrahim said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div> Tue, 26 May 2015 11:20:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2450892 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/26/39/underwater.jpg