In the Field - Pharmaceutical Technology

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In the Field

Pharmaceutical Technology

Coming Down the Pike...

by Michelle Hoffman

Text sirtuins are the new kinases, according to a presentation given last month at the JP Healthcare Investors Conference in San Francisco by Sirtis CEO Christoph Westphal. Sirtuins are a class of proteins that seem to modulate aspects of the aging process. Researchers had noted some time ago the increased longevity of animals on highly calorie-restricted diets. These animals also enjoy better sugar regulation than do animals on higher-calorie, higher-fat diets. Within the past year, scientists have shown that sirtuins in general, and the protein SIRT1 in particular, are activated in calorie-restricted animals.

All of this has led investigators to initiate studies of the sirtuins in order to someday mitigate some of the effects of aging. Westphal predicted that the sirtuins may even merit the kind of attention now enjoyed by the kinases—a family of proteins in which some of its members have been implicated in cancer and autoimmune diseases, and which have been the focus of intense scrutiny by drugmakers for most of the past decade.

Indeed, many of the health benefits of a calorie-restricted diet can be simulated by resveratrol, a small molecule found in red wine. Scientists now understand that resveratrol also activates SIRT1.

Now, it seems, Sirtis has found a small molecule that it is calling SRT1720, which is more potent than resveratrol, and which might be useful in the treatment of Type II diabetes. Westphal reported at the meeting that the experimental drug lowered blood glucose levels and improved glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in mouse models of diabetes and obesity. Late last year, Sirtis researchers, in collaboration with investigators at the University of California at San Diego and Harvard Medical School also reported these results in Nature.

Source: J.C. Milne, P.D. Lambert, S. Schenk, et al., "Small Molecule Activators of SIRT1 as Therapeutics for the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes," Nature (450) 712–716.

Zone in on: IT

Is Pharma Leading the Way in Information Technology?

by Angie Drakulich

A December 2007 study by Diamond Management & Technology Consultants shows just how important information technology (IT) is to business today, including the pharmaceutical business. Only 26 pharmaceutical company executives participated in the survey, which fielded a total 456 respondents, but 90% of respondents had annual revenues of more than $1 billion.

Key findings show that 81% of pharmaceutical firm participants point to IT as a significant factor in the operational success of their business, and 77% believe IT plays a significant role in company success. In terms of IT's impact on core products, 73% felt that IT had a significant influence. In fact, overall respondents placed IT ahead of business functions such as sales, manufacturing, distribution, procurement, and marketing when it comes to the ability of a single function to change company operations over the next three years. Outsourcing may be a large factor behind this predicted change. Overall respondents said they expect 21% of their company's IT services to be outsourced by 2010, although only 9% say they currently outsource IT operations.


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