Vaya con dios, Genentech

Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is going to pay $46.8 billion in cash to buy the 44 percent of biotech leader Genentech that it doesn’t already own.  The deal values Genentech at more than $100 billion.  Fortunately, one of Roche’s big products is the tranquilizer Valium.  Genentech’s Avastin, a treatment for various types of breast, lung and colon cancers, is one of the best-selling biotechnology drugs in the world.  The combined company will be the seventh-largest U.S. pharmaceutical company in terms of market share.  It remains to be seen what effect thishas on the culture of Genentech, which is known for innovative research and one of the best places to work.  See Roche Press Release.

Lions, Tigers and Frankencows.  Oh, My.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) plans to hold public meetings in April to address issues raised by its proposal to revise its regulations on the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of genetically engineered organisms.  The APHIS has requested comment on the following four issues:

(1) Scope of the regulation and which Genetically Engineered  organisms should be regulated;
(2) Incorporation into APHIS regulations of the Plant Protection Act’s noxious weed authority;
(3) Elimination of notification procedure and revision of the permit procedure;
(4) Environmental release permit categories and regulation of GE crops that produce pharmaceutical and industrial compounds.

APHIS is extending the comment period for the proposed rule until 60 days after the April meetings. (via FDA Law Blog)

What’s a Federal Circuit Good For?

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in In re Ferguson, shot down the claims of U.S. Serial No. 09/387,823, which claimed a “paradigm for marketing software” — whatever that is —  the “machine-or-transformation” test from the Court’s In re Bilski decision.  Noteworthy is the underlying debate on whether the Bilski decision overturned not only State Street but other precedent (including the Freeman-Walter-Abele test, the “technological arts” test and the “physical steps” test), constituting a “sweeping rejection of precedent [that] simply enlarges the taint on the thousands of patents that were granted in application of these tests.”   (via Patent Docs)

More Stem Cells, Still No Human Clones

President Obama on Monday lifted the Bush administration’s limits on human embryonic stem cell research.  He did take time to note that this still means no human cloning so forget about a bunch of mini-me’s.  The Bush administration had only allowed tax dollars to support studies on a small number of existing lines, or colonies, of stem cells that had already been derived from embryos, but not on creating new lines. Because embryonic stem cells are capable of developing into any type of cell or tissue in the body, many scientists believe they hold the possibility for treatments and cures for ailments as varied as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease.

Et cetera

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