Stories by Kevin Davies

Journal editors demand clinical trial registration

Calling for "transparency with respect to performance and reporting of clinical trials," the editors of a dozen prestigious medical journals have released a joint statement demanding the registration of all clinical trials from July 1, 2005.

A black eye for bioethics

On Friday, Feb. 27, professor Elizabeth Blackburn, an internationally renowned cell biologist, received a surprise phone call from the White House, informing her that her services on the President's Council on Bioethics, on which she had served since its inception in 2001, would no longer be required. Her dismissal, which follows her decision to publicly air concerns about the tenor and accuracy of the council's published reports, raises serious questions about the diversity and objectivity of the bioethics council, and does further damage to President Bush's standing in the scientific community.

Profiles in carcinogenesis

MADRID (03/22/2004) - "Cancer Jab Soon" was a British newspaper headline that greeted the discovery of the first human oncogene. Media hype has changed little in 25 years, nor has the annual number of casualties of cancer. But speakers at the Spanish National Cancer Centre (CNIO) 2004 Symposium* presented copious signs of a detailed new taxonomic understanding of tumor cell biology, thanks largely to advances in DNA profiling of gene expression, producing new clues about the hallmarks of cancer and new strategies in treating the disease.

DeCODE's cardiac gene study report causes FLAP

BOSTON (03/22/2004) - The search for complex disease genes has taken another tantalizing step forward with the publication last month of a study from deCODE Genetics Inc. linking discrete gene variations to increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. But at least two of the scientific experts who reviewed the report for the journal Nature Genetics have questioned whether the data merited such a high-profile publication.

The ultimate platform firm

FRAMINGHAM (01/15/2004) - Greg Lucier, the former GE Medical Systems executive who took the helm at Invitrogen Corp. six months ago as president and CEO, jokes, "I am not responsible for anything bad that happened in the past, but anything good, I'll take credit for that!" He is not resting on his laurels; the acquisition of RNAi company Sequitur last November is just one in a string of recent deals. Prior to receiving the Frost & Sullivan 2003 Drug Discovery Company of the Year award, Lucier spoke with editor-in-chief Kevin Davies in San Diego about his company's spending spree and quest to become the one-stop supplier of tools, reagents, and software across the drug discovery pipeline.

Public library of science opens its doors

BOSTON (11/24/2003) - Unable to persuade traditional scientific publishers to release their monopoly on scientific and medical literature archives, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) has taken matters into its own hands. Last month, the organization debuted PLoS Biology, a journal that provides free, unlimited access to "exciting" peer-review research, allowing authors to retain copyright but levying a fee for publication.

Iressa's trials and tribulations

FRAMINGHAM (10/21/2003) - Two years ago, a 21-year-old terminal cancer patient named Abigail Burroughs was stymied in her efforts to obtain AstraZeneca PLC's potentially life-saving drug Iressa (gefitinib, ZD1839), which was then in clinical trials. Following her death, her father founded the nonprofit Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs, and this summer sued Mark McClellan, commissioner of the FDA, and Tommy Thompson, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Among the charges: FDA policies were tantamount to "a death sentence ... in violation of the guarantee of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution against deprivation of life without due process."

Chipping away at cancer in vivo, in situ

FRAMINGHAM (09/24/2003) - Two exciting studies published last month in The Lancet and Cell, respectively, provide excellent examples that DNA microarrays are not merely passive platforms to survey gene expression data but, in the right hands, can shed important light on aspects of disease, in these cases cancer, that have previously proven intractable -- the prediction of drug response and the underlying cellular mechanisms.

Bioinformatics and national service

FRAMINGHAM (09/24/2003) - Two years ago, the nation watched in disbelief as two hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center. Author William Langewiesche captured the moment in American Ground: "For an instant, each tower left its imprint in the air, a phantom of pulverized concrete marking a place that then became a memory."

GlaxoSmithKline Reveals Ingenuity

FRAMINGHAM (09/22/2003) - In a further validation of Big Pharma's acceptance of systems biology, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has licensed part of the Ingenuity Systems' Pathways Knowledge Base to facilitate genome-wide computational analysis of biological systems underlying disease.