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Scientists extend telomeres to slow cell aging

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that delivering modified mRNA encoding the protein telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) to cells extends their telomeres a finite but significant amount

Will extending telomeres lead to longer, healthier lives? Researchers have taken an important step toward answering this question by developing a new treatment used in the laboratory that extends telomeres.
One of the key aspects of aging is the shortening of telomeres over time. Telomeres, which serve as protective "end caps" for chromosomes, help keep DNA healthy and functioning as it replicates. Unfortunately, these protective end caps become shorter with each DNA replication, and eventually are no longer able to protect DNA from sustaining damage and mutations. In other words, we get older.
An important step toward lengthening telomeres has now been made, which not only allows scientists to increase cell numbers for testing drugs, but may also hold a key to longer and healthier lives. This research was published online in The FASEB Journal.
"In the near term, since biomedical research depends heavily on having large numbers of cells available for study, we hope that these findings will be broadly applicable in the search for treatments and cures for disease," said Helen M. Blau, Ph.D., who led the research as Director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California, and an Associate Editor of The FASEB Journal, the Bethesda, Maryland-based journal in which her report was published. "Ultimately, we hope that these findings will help prevent, delay or treat age-related conditions and diseases, as well as certain devastating genetic diseases of inadequate telomere maintenance."
To make this discovery, Blau and colleagues delivered modified mRNA encoding TERT, the enzyme that increases the length of telomeres by adding DNA repeats, to four groups of cells. The first group received modified mRNA encoding TERT, and the other three groups were controls that received either mRNA encoding an inactive form of TERT, the solution in which TERT is delivered, or no treatment. The telomeres of the first group (telomere-extending treatment group) were rapidly lengthened over a period of a few days, whereas the telomeres of the three control groups were not extended. The first group was also able to undergo more cell divisions, whereas the controls were not. Importantly for the potential safety of this approach, the telomeres of the first group resumed shortening after they were extended, showing that due to the short, transient treatment, the cells were not immortalized.
Further, all of the cell populations treated eventually stopped dividing, indicating that they were not immortalized. This approach has been tested on cell types including fibroblasts and myoblasts and is now being tested on stem cells. Additionally, this research showed that cells could be treated several times with enhanced effects on the capacity for division. Since the increase in numbers is compounded with each treatment, a small sample of cells, for example from a small biopsy, can be amplified to very large numbers.
"We were surprised and pleased at how quickly modified TERT mRNA extends telomeres," said John Ramunas, first author and postdoctoral fellow who pioneered this work in Blau's Stanford University laboratory. "In fibroblasts, over a decade of telomere shortening was reversed in a few days, suggesting that a therapy might be brief and infrequent."
"It might not be the Fountain of Youth to keep us young forever, but this discovery is a real shot in the arm. This work is a game-changer," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. He added, "in the short term it will help us to understand how aging affects the molecular machinery of cells. In the long-term, the sky's the limit. Biologists have long guessed that the key to a longer lifespan is figuring out how to extend telomeres. Helen Blau and her colleagues have just done that."

DNA 'glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs
DNA molecules provide the "source code" for life in humans, plants, animals and some microbes. But now researchers report an initial study showing that the strands can also act as a glue to hold together 3-D-printed materials that could someday be used to grow tissues and organs in the lab. This first-of-its-kind demonstration of the inexpensive process is described in the brand-new journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.
Andrew Ellington and colleagues explain that although researchers have used nucleic acids such as DNA to assemble objects, most of these are nano-sized — so tiny that humans can't see them with the naked eye. Making them into larger, visible objects is cost-prohibitive. Current methods also do not allow for much control or flexibility in the types of materials that are created. Overcoming these challenges could potentially have a big payoff — the ability to make tissues to repair injuries or even to create organs for the thousands of patients in need of organ transplants. With this in mind, Ellington's group set out to create a larger, more affordable material held together with DNA.
The researchers developed DNA-coated nanoparticles made of either polystyrene or polyacrylamide. DNA binding adhered these inexpensive nanoparticles to each other, forming gel-like materials that they could extrude from a 3-D printer. The materials were easy to see and could be manipulated without a microscope. The DNA adhesive also allowed the researchers to control how these gels came together. They showed that human cells could grow in the gels, which is the first step toward the ultimate goal of using the materials as scaffolds for growing tissues.
The American Chemical Society

Genome-wide search reveals new genes involved in long-term memory
A new study has identified genes involved in long-term memory in the worm as part of research aimed at finding ways to retain cognitive abilities during aging.
The study, which was published in the journal Neuron, identified more than 750 genes involved in long-term memory, including many that had not been found previously and that could serve as targets for future research, said senior author Coleen Murphy, an associate professor of molecular biology and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University.
"We want to know, are there ways to extend memory?" Murphy said. "And eventually, we would like to ask, are there compounds that could maintain memory with age?"
The newly pinpointed genes are "turned on" by a molecule known as CREB (cAMP-response element-binding protein), a factor known to be required for long-term memory in many organisms, including worms and mice.
"There is a pretty direct relationship between CREB and long-term memory," Murphy said, "and many organisms lose CREB as they age." By studying the CREB-activated genes involved in long-term memory, the researchers hope to better understand why some organisms lose their long-term memories as they age.
To identify the genes, the researchers first instilled long-term memories in the worms by training them to associate meal-time with a butterscotch smell. Trained worms were able to remember that the butterscotch smell means dinner for about 16 hours, a significant amount of time for the worm.
The researchers then scanned the genomes of both trained worms and non-trained worms, looking for genes turned on by CREB.
The researchers detected 757 CREB-activated genes in the long-term memory-trained worms, and showed that these genes were turned on primarily in worm cells called the AIM interneurons.
They also found CREB-activated genes in non-trained worms, but the genes were not turned on in AIM interneurons and were not involved in long-term memory. CREB turns on genes involved in other biological functions such as growth, immune response, and metabolism. Throughout the worm, the researchers noted distinct non-memory (or "basal") genes in addition to the memory-related genes.
The next step, said Murphy, is to find out what these newly recognized long-term memory genes do when they are activated by CREB. For example, the activated genes may strengthen connections between neurons.
Worms are a perfect system in which to explore that question, Murphy said. The worm Caenorhabditis elegans has only 302 neurons, whereas a typical mammalian brain contains billions of the cells.
"Worms use the same molecular machinery that higher organisms, including mammals, use to carry out long-term memory," said Murphy. "We hope that other researchers will take our list and look at the genes to see whether they are important in more complex organisms."
Murphy said that future work will involve exploring CREB's role in long-term memory as well as reproduction in worms as they age.
Princeton University

Trust your gut: E. coli may hold one of the keys to treating Parkinson's
E. coli usually brings to mind food poisoning and beach closures, but researchers recently discovered a protein in E. coli that inhibits the accumulation of potentially toxic amyloids--a hallmark of diseases such as Parkinson's.
Amyloids are formed by proteins that misfold and group together, and when amyloids assemble at the wrong place or time, they can damage brain tissue and cause cell death, according to Margery Evans, lead author of the University of Michigan study, and Matthew Chapman, principal investigator and associate professor in U-M Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.
The findings could point to a new therapeutic approach to Parkinson's disease and a method for targeting amyloids associated with such neurodegenerative diseases.
A key biological problem related to patients with Parkinson's is that certain proteins accumulate to form harmful amyloid fibers in brain tissues, which is toxic to cells and causes cell death.
While these amyloids are a hallmark of Parkinson's and other diseases such as Alzheimer's, not all amyloids are bad. Some cells, those in E. coli included, assemble helpful amyloids used for cell function.
E. coli make amyloid curli on the cell surface, where it's protective, rather than toxic. The curli anchor the bacteria to kitchen counters and intestinal walls, where they can cause infections and make us sick. These helpful amyloids that E. coli produce do not form on the inside of the cell where they would be toxic.
"It means that something in E. coli very specifically inhibits the assembly of the amyloid inside the cell. Therefore, amyloid formation only occurs outside the cell where it does not cause toxicity," said Evans, a doctoral student in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.
Evans and the U-M team went on a biochemical hunt to understand how E. coli prevented amyloids from forming inside cells and uncovered a protein called CsgC that is a very specific, effective inhibitor of E. coli amyloid formation.
U-M researchers have been collaborating with scientists from Umeå University in Sweden and Imperial College in London, and in the current study found that the CsgC protein also inhibits amyloid formation of the kind associated with Parkinson's.
Another implication of the research is that the curli could be a target for attacking biofilms, a kind of goo created by bacteria, which acts as a shield to thwart antibiotics and antiseptics. These bacteria can cause chronic infections, but treating these infections using molecules that block curli formation may degrade the biofilm and leave the bacteria more vulnerable to drug therapy.
University of Michigan

Peptide shows promise in penetrating heart attack scar tissue to regenerate cardiac nerves
Case Western Reserve's chemical compound aimed at restoring spinal cord function may have an additional purpose: stopping potentially fatal arrhythmias after heart attack.
Case Western Reserve neurosciences professor Jerry Silver, PhD, long has believed that lessons learned over decades from spinal cord research could someday apply to other areas of the body. He got the chance to test his theory when a colleague from another campus realized that his new compound - intracellular sigma peptide (ISP) - could address a critical cardiac issue.
The results of the project, led by Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) researcher Beth A. Habecker, PhD, exceeded even Silver's greatest hopes: 100 percent success in animal models. Details can be found in the Feb. 2 edition of Nature Communications.
"Essentially, the OHSU group cured arrhythmia in the mouse using ISP," Silver said. "They observed true regeneration right back into the scar within the infarct area. This is pretty exciting."
Habecker, professor and interim chair of OHSU's Physiology and Pharmacology Department, is similarly enthusiastic about the findings. "Patients who survive a heart attack remain at high risk for cardiac arrest and severe arrhythmias," explained Habecker, the paper's senior author. "Recent clinical studies suggest sympathetic denervation predicts the risk for cardiac arrest. Our study shows that this risk can be decreased by intervening with ISP to promote axon regeneration into the cardiac scar."
At first, the idea sounds counterintuitive: a peptide shown to restore function in spinal cords could help stop an active malfunction in hearts. But once researchers looked more carefully at the reasons for the respective problems, ISP's benefits to both became clear. Spinal paralysis and denervation in the heart each stem from failed nerve regeneration caused by a family of inhibitory molecules called proteoglycans that form in scar tissue following injury or even the trauma of a cardiac procedure. ISP's role is to revive those nerves by allowing them to ignore the repulsing scar molecules.
Habecker's work with Case Western Reserve's compound emerged from a combination of history and happenstance. She knew Silver from her time as a postdoctoral fellow in neurosciences here in the early 1990s, and had followed his work with proteoglycans, the inhibitory protein molecules that engulf nerves during scarring. Habecker had found that proteoglycans played a similarly problematic role after heart attacks, and invited him to lecture on his most current research. As part of the visit, the pair compared notes on their respective projects.
"When she discussed her work with me, I almost fell out of my chair," Silver recalled. "I realized how similar our work was, and I said, 'we have to send you our peptide.' When I described the peptide, she said she wanted to give it a try in heart attack research in animal models."
The Nature Communications paper reflects work done entirely at OHSU after Silver's lab provided enough of the compound for Habecker's team to perform their experiment. The effort involved simulating the impact of an actual heart attack in mice, and then "treating" it with the ISP, saline, or a non-therapeutic peptide (the control).
Two weeks later, the OHSU scientists found that all of the mice that received ISP regained normal levels of sympathetic cardiac nerve function throughout the left ventricle, including the heart attack-damaged areas. Additionally, telemeter readings on these animals showed no arrhythmia activity. In contrast, animals treated with saline or the control peptide had cardiac sympathetic denervation in areas of their hearts damaged by the myocardial infarction, and as a consequence, experienced arrhythmias.
"My role was that of a supplier," Silver said. "It was really important that this study of the peptide be conducted without my involvement. The study at OHSU provided independent validation that the peptide works in animals. And it confirmed the effectiveness of ISP in a completely different model -- heart attack. That kind of replication is rare."
The discovery has significant potential in heart attack treatment. Currently, 7 to 10 percent of people die within the first six months from sudden cardiac death due to arrhythmia. ISP shows promise in serving as the basis for prophylactic treatment to prevent arrhythmia within the first months of a heart attack.
"We are extremely fortunate to have the connection with Dr. Silver's lab, which allowed us to test a systemically available therapeutic in our heart attack model," Habecker explained. "The fact that giving ISP several days after injury can fully restore innervation and decrease arrhythmia risk is amazing, and is a key finding."
Next steps in moving ISP forward will be testing the peptide as a post-heart attack treatment in larger animals. Such tests would reveal maximum tolerated dose, any toxicity potential and the extent to which the peptide infiltrates scar tissues. Additionally through animal studies, investigators wish to learn whether ISP administered several months, or even years, after a heart attack would confer a similar benefit as treatment administered three days post-heart attack.
"We want to do clinical trials here at Case Western Reserve with ISP when it reaches clinical trial stage," Silver said. "We could conduct those trials in collaboration with OHSU and other centers throughout the country."
Case Western Reserve University

Enzymes believed to promote cancer actually suppress tumours

Finding upends dogma and may lead to new activator-based drugs

Upending decades-old dogma, a team of scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say enzymes long categorized as promoting cancer are, in fact, tumor suppressors and that current clinical efforts to develop inhibitor-based drugs should instead focus on restoring the enzymes' activities.
The findings are published in the January 29 issue of Cell.
Protein Kinase C (PKC) is a group of enzymes that act as catalysts for a host of cellular functions, among which are cancer-relevant activities, such as cell survival, proliferation, apoptosis, and migration. The discovery that they are receptors for tumor-producing phorbol esters, plant-derived compounds that bind to and activate PKC, created a dogma that activation of PKCs by phorbol esters promoted carcinogen-induced tumorigenesis.
"For three decades, researchers have sought to find new cancer therapies based on the idea that inhibiting or blocking PKC signals would hinder or halt tumor development," said Alexandra Newton, PhD, professor of pharmacology and the study's principal investigator, "but PKCs have remained an elusive chemotherapeutic target." The reason, suggest Newton and colleagues, is that contrary to conventional wisdom, PKCs do not promote cancer progression; rather, they act to suppress tumor growth.
Using live cell imaging, first author Corina Antal, a graduate student in the Biomedical Sciences program at UC San Diego, characterized 8 percent of the more than 550 PKC mutations identified in human cancers. This led to the unexpected discovery that the majority of mutations actually reduced or abolished PKC activity, and none were activating. The mutations impeded signal binding, prevented correct structuring of the enzyme, or impaired catalytic activity.
When the scientists corrected a loss-of-function PKC mutation in the genome of a colon cancer cell line, tumor growth in a mouse model was reduced, demonstrating that normal PKC activity inhibits cancer. One possible explanation, said the researchers, is that PKC typically represses signaling from certain oncogenes - genes that can cause normal cells to become cancerous. When PKC is lost, oncogenic signaling increases, fueling tumor growth.
"Inhibiting PKC has so far proved not only an unsuccessful strategy in a number of cancer clinical trials, but its addition to chemotherapy has resulted in decreased response rates in patients," said Newton. "Given our results, this isn't surprising. Our findings suggest therapeutic strategies need to go the other way and target ways to restore PKC activity, not inhibit it. This is contrary to the current dogma."
How could this misconception of PKC promoting tumors have arisen?
Long-term activation of PKCs by phorbol esters results in their degradation, said first author Antal. In models of tumor promotion, a sub-threshold dose of a carcinogen is painted on mouse skin, followed by repeated applications of phorbol esters. "This repeated application of phorbol esters will lead to the loss of PKC. Thus, their tumor-promoting function may arise because a brake to oncogenic signaling has been removed."
University of California - San Diego


The new Genevac Rocket Synergy series sets a new benchmark in sample evaporation versatility through offering automated evaporation of a wide range of sample formats and sizes, from millilitres to tens of litres. The Rocket Synergy can dry or concentrate up to six flasks, each containing a maximum of 450ml of solvent, or 18 ASE® vials, with no user intervention or attention. To extend operational versatility the Rocket Synergy flask rotor may be quickly removed and replaced with a stainless steel vessel allowing unattended automated batch processing of up to 5 litres per run.
For larger volume applications the Rocket 4D Synergy also offers an automatic feed mode enabling processing of volumes of up to 100L in a single run. Five times faster than other 'intelligent' evaporators, Rocket Synergy and Rocket 4D Synergy are each capable of replacing several rotary evaporators, saving valuable bench space and improving your productivity.
For further information please visit or contact Genevac on +44-1473-240000 / +1-845-687-5000 /

Asynt has formed a partnership with Asahi Glassplant (AG!) to supply their range of high performance reaction vessels alongside, and incorporated with, its popular ReactoMate Controlled Lab Reactors. Having visited the AG! production facility in Japan - Asynt Managing Director (Martyn Fordham commented "I was greatly impressed by the AG! glassblowing capabilities which is technically beyond what I have witnessed anywhere in the last 30 years". He added "At Asynt our aim is always to offer the highest specification and best performing products, so consequently the AG! Glass reaction vessels fit perfectly in our portfolio. I believe that the wider chemistry community will benefit considerably from the capabilities of these high specification vessels compared to standard jacketed reactor vessels". By using resized glass - AG! can produce reaction vessels with a unique thinner inner jacket wall that increases heat transfer rates but without compromising on the strength or safety aspects of the vessel. A proprietary AG! "ring baffle" fluid jacket design option ensures that the fluid path in reactor vessels is even and removes the risk of hot spots. More importantly, when combined with the thinner reactor jacket, this innovation gives a significant improvement in heating and cooling performance. All AG! reaction vessels include an easily removable zero dead space drain valve assembly even on smaller vessels. As an option - high pressure AG! reactor vessels with performance up to 12 bar pressure are available. The addition of the AG! reactor vessel range extends the scale of reactors available from Asynt up to 160 L, or up to 60 L with an insulating vacuum jacket.
For further information please visit or contact Asynt on +44-1638-781709 /

The EZ-2 Elite Centrifugal Evaporator from Genevac has been designed to provide unmatched final drying of stubborn samples and fast lyophilisation of HPLC fractions. Benefiting from a high performance scroll pump, that delivers deep vacuum, the EZ-2 Elite is able to routinely remove even very high boiling solvents such as DMSO and NMP. In addition internal heating of vapour duct and system components ensures that such challenging solvents only collect in the SpeedTrap™ condenser, and not anywhere else. The SpeedTrap condenser on the EZ-2 Elite comes the benefit of automatic defrost and drain technology. The EZ-2 controls the SpeedTrap and the Elite solvent collection vessel offering mid-method defrosting and draining. Using the EZ-2 Elite SpeedTrap - the Genevac LyoSpeed™ method of fast lyophilisation of HPLC fractions is possible on an EZ-2 Evaporator. The EZ-2 Elite is able to concentrate or completely dry samples. The system is compatible with a wide selection of sample holders enabling evaporation from most common sample container formats including round-bottom flasks up to 500ml, tubes up to 160mm long, custom reaction blocks as well as shallow and deep-well microplates. To meet the need of the many life science companies switching their compound generation programmes from serial chemistry to parallel synthesis, the EZ-2 Elite is also able to take tubes, flasks and vials directly from the synthesis process, eliminating a manual handling step, increasing recoveries and removing the chance of cross contamination. Running the EZ-2 Elite is highly intuitive. Just load your samples, select maximum safe temperature for samples, select solvent type and hit start. Offering true unattended operation capability the EZ-2 Elite requires no user training, even a beginner can competently use the system within 5 minutes.

At the renowned Midsummer House Restaurant in Cambridge, UK the chefs have been experimenting with centrifugal evaporation, using the Genevac Rocket evaporator. Using the centrifugal evaporation technique, Midsummer House chefs are taking large volumes of liquid and concentrating them down. These concentrates can be used to increase the depth of flavour of sauces or stocks or to create unique flavour combinations. Centrifugal evaporation is predominantly used in analytical laboratories, where the quality of the final product is absolutely vital – just as it is in the kitchen.
At Midsummer House, Head Chef Daniel Clifford's cooking has a modern-focus which is underpinned by classical French technique. Top-quality ingredients, advanced technique and technical prowess add wow-factor to the menus. It is increasingly common to find scientific equipment in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants: liquid nitrogen, water baths, dehydration and freeze dryers enable modern chefs to experiment with taste and texture in ways that were previously impossible. But while technological theatre can make a meal into a show-stopper, the success of every dish ultimately depends on its flavours. "We are still learning with the Rocket Evaporator and testing lots of products on it" commented Chef Clifford. "It really is so much fun for our chefs to taste the clarity of ingredients and see how pure we can make the flavours". At Midsummer House the centrifugal evaporation technique is already used with a wide range of components, including a quail consommé (for ravioli), celery juice (incorporated into sorbet) and crab stock (to be made into crab butter). Centrifugal evaporation does not need high temperatures to work so in contrast to other methods, for example reducing a sauce down on the stove, the flavours are not affected. This is especially important with the subtle flavours like cucumber or beetroot. But just as the Midsummer House is at the cutting edge of gastronomy, the Genevac Rocket has redefined centrifugal evaporation. Most evaporators are designed for use with small amounts of liquid, often just a few centilitres. Making enough concentrate for a single serving of sauce might take days. The Rocket, however, is able to rapidly transform litres of liquid into millilitres of concentrate. By using an innovative low-temperature steam system this can be achieved in just a few hours. Chef Daniel Clifford concluded "We are always striving to better our techniques to offer the best food in the industry". "There is no other evaporator that can achieve these goals. The Genevac Rocket is unique". For further information on the Rocket Evaporator please visit

Strong YMC-Triart anion exchanger
The innovative and proven YMC-Triart technology is now also available with a strong anion exchange functionality for preparative chromatography applications. This means that the process-related advantages of HPLC purifications can also be used for biopharmaceutical applications. Customer advantages are: high throughput due to high flow rates at high pressure; high loadability due to high dynamic binding capacity; efficient column packing due to narrow particle size distribution; optimised pore and particle size for biochromatography; alkaline "cleaning-in-place" (CIP) possible.
Ideal for removal of DNA contaminations

YMC Europe GmbH
Michael Ostendorf
Schöttmannshof 19
D-46539 Dinslaken
Phone: +49 (0) 2064 427-0
Fax: +49 (0) 2064 427-222

Editions Privat are publishing a book entitled Botanical Expertise Pierre Fabre with the subtitle The Botanical Passion Behind The Pharmaceutical Art. Mr. Pierre Fabre developed the Group's expertise for half a century, continually striving to better understand, use and protect the plant kingdom. Today, his philosophy is applied through the Botanical Expertise Pierre Fabre approach, an expertise described and analysed in this work published by Editions Privat. It takes readers on a journey by recounting the adventure of six of the Group's emblematic plants: Tropical Periwinkle, Witch Hazel, Calendula, the Shea tree, the Argan tree, and Rhealba Oat. It also honours the men and women who grow these plants around the world: in Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Morocco, the Pyrenees, and the Tarn. The book will be available in bookstores from March 2015 (French and English versions).

AGC Chemicals Americas Inc. will introduce SUNSPERA fine silica for catalyst support. SUNSPERA's precisely designed pore structure, spherical shapes and size distribution contribute to superior finished polymer resins and optimum productivity. SUNSPERA joins AGC's family of fine silica products — Solesphere™, Sunlovely™, M.S. GEL™ and Silica Gel — which provide catalyst support for cosmetics, film and synthetic leather, serve as a matting agent for paints and act as filler for coated printing papers.

The Doctorate as a Industry Strategy Resource
The Annual Meeting (PhD-Day) of the Doctorate School in Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is an occasion to exchange thoughts on the role of PhD in the current business reality. In fact, this event represents an important opportunity to involve the business society in the PhD education and training at the Politecnico di Milano.
The meeting includes the poster presentation of the PhD student's research and the oral presentation of the best doctoral thesis selected by a panel of industry experts. Invited oral presentations from industries and academic organizations interested in this PhD School are also scheduled. The PhD committee foresees and encourages the participation of Italian and foreign industries operating in the field of chemistry willing to know about our Doctorate school.
Registration and catering are free, please register in advance.
Where: at the Politecnico di Milano Roger Hall, Via Ampere, 2.
When: March 24, 2015
Secretary and information
Daniela Rignanese
Tel. +39 02 23994740

Almac Group has announced the results of a survey conducted by researchers at the Tufts Centre for the Study of Drug Development, outlining the perceptions and anticipated implementation of electronic Patient Reported Outcome (ePRO) methods used in conducting clinical trials. The survey results, backed by a grant from Almac, found that sponsor and CRO companies are receptive to, and plan to increase their use of ePRO. The results revealed that the top benefits of ePRO adoption are increased data quality, patient compliance, and efficiency of data collection. Although respondent perceptions about ePRO indicated that ePRO is more expensive than paper, few companies could provide metrics about these cost comparisons. The results of the survey, based on 22 responses from 18 companies, also show that the adoption rate of ePRO will continue to rise, as it is still a relatively new addition to clinical research programs. More than three-fifths (61%) of respondents indicated their companies began using ePRO in the last 5 years, while 11% have been using ePRO for more than 10 years. In examining future trends, more than three-quarters of respondents expected that there would be increasing ePRO usage for post-marketing trials for primary and secondary endpoints. Mark Wade, Almac's Director of Patient-Focused Solutions commented: "The findings highlight that 2/3 of companies in this survey are satisfied with ePRO and over half indicate that the time to database lock is shorter with ePRO. As regulatory bodies continue to press for higher standards of data quality and sponsors seek cost savings, Almac is strongly positioned to provide solutions and offer support to ease the transition from traditional methods to electronic reporting systems".

Euticals is pleased to announce that on November 2014 FDA has inspected our Tonneins and Bon-Encontre sites, releasing a successful and positive outcome, with no 483 issued. For Bon-Encontre it was the first FDA inspection which confirms Euticals outstanding regulatory track records. The cGMP surveillance inspection ensures the practice and use of cGMP standards for both the lines, sterile and non-sterile. Once again this result shows that in Euticals quality is not an act, it's a habit.

FutureFuel Corp. has announced its 2015 quarterly dividend program, declaring normal quarterly dividends of U.S. $0.06 per share, with record dates of March 2, 2015, June 1, 2015, September 1, 2015 and December 1, 2015, and payment dates of March 13, 2015, June 12, 2015, September 11, 2015 and December 11, 2015, respectively. FutureFuel's President, Lee E. Mikles, commented on the Company's 2015 dividend policy, saying: "Since its inception, FutureFuel has been, and remains, a shareholder-aware company in all activities inclusive of its dividend policy. The Company's Board of Directors has determined to reduce the dividend rate for 2015, primarily in reaction to uncertainty surrounding our biodiesel segment. The entire U.S. biofuels industry continues to be challenged by the lack of clarity from Congress on the $1 per gallon biofuel blenders' credit coupled with considerable questions around the EPA's renewable fuel standards (RFS) and renewable volume obligations (RVO). The Company has concluded this to be a prudent step in the current environment. At the same time, we remain optimistic that the EPA will issue an improved RVO for 2015. The lack of an RVO in 2014 compounded the incremental pressure on our biofuels business and the biofuels industry cannot operate effectively without that clarity. The Company is committed to a strong dividend policy that reflects the underlying strength of our business and the Board of Directors will periodically review our dividend policy as events unfold".

W. R. Grace & Co. has announced that it will release its fourth quarter and full year 2014 financial results at 6:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, February 5, 2015. A company-hosted conference call and webcast will follow at 11:00 a.m. ET that day. During the call, Fred Festa, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Hudson La Force, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will discuss the results and provide commentary on business performance. A question and answer session with analysts will follow the prepared remarks. Access to the live webcast and the accompanying slides will be available through the Investor section of the company's web site, Those without access to the Internet can participate by dialing +1 877.415.3178 (U.S.) or +1 857.244.7321 (International). The participant passcode is 20461224. Investors are advised to dial into the call at least 10 minutes early in order to register. An audio replay will be available after 3:00 p.m. ET on February 5. The replay will be accessible by dialing +1 888.286.8010 (U.S.) or +1 617.801.6888 (International) and entering the participant passcode 20291966. The replay will be available for one week.

Dr. Reddy's Laboratories has announced that it has closed the acquisition of Habitrol® brand (an over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy transdermal patch) from Novartis Consumer Health Inc. following issuance of the proposed consent order from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on November 26, 2014. The company had earlier entered into an asset purchase agreement with Novartis Consumer Health Inc. to acquire the title and rights of Habitrol® brand and to market the product in the U.S. market. With this closure, the company has assumed responsibility for the product and will commence shipments of the product in the market shortly.

Hovione has announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) performed a Pre-Approval Inspection to its plant in Loures, Portugal, covering two NDA filings. At the conclusion of the inspection, the FDA issued a Form 483 with three inspectional observations. The inspection carried out by the FDA Investigator Mr. Ramon Hernandez and by the Chemist, Mr. Jose A. Lopez Rubet, lasted 5 days as initially planned, started on 1st December and concluded on the 5th. The inspection confirmed the site to be compliant with the principles and guidelines of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

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