reverseengineer writes: The US Food and Drug Administration has given its first approval for a therapeutic cancer vaccine. In a clinical trial 'involving 512 men, those who got Provenge (sipuleucel-T) had a median survival of 25.8 months after treatment while those who got a placebo lived a median of 21.7 months. After three years, 32 percent of those who got Provenge were alive, compared with 23 percent of those who got the placebo.'
“The big story here is that this is the first proof of principle and proof that immunotherapy works in general in cancer, which I think is a huge observation,” said Dr. Philip Kantoff, chief of solid tumor oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the lead investigator in Dendreon’s largest clinical trial for the drug. “I think this is a very big thing and will lead to a lot more enthusiasm for the approach.”
reverseengineer writes: Chemists from the University of Wisconsin report a process for hydrolyzing cellulose into sugars that can be fermented to produce ethanol. In a recently published paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ronald Raines and Joseph Binder report that the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([EMIM]Cl) can dissolve cellulose, and that by carefully controlling the water present in an acid hydrolysis reaction conducted in [EMIM]Cl, they achieved a "90% yield of glucose from cellulose and 70–80% yield of sugars from untreated corn stover. " The authors go on to note, "This simple chemical process, which requires neither an edible plant nor a cellulase, could enable crude biomass to be the sole source of carbon for a scalable biorefinery. "
reverseengineer writes: According to a Reuters story, AMD has announced it will spin off its manufacturing facilities into a separate firm with the temporary name of the Foundry Company. Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), a state-owned venture capital company, will hold half the board seats and own 55 percent of the new company, with AMD holding the balance. AMD will continue to use the new company's fabs- as a customer. As the story notes, 'AMD has always struggled against its bigger competitor and in the last few years was forced to weigh the price of its pride in owning the fabricating plants, or 'fabs,' which most other chip makers gave up long ago.'
reverseengineer writes: Eminent physicist John Archibald Wheeler has died from pneumonia at the age of 96. The coiner of the terms "black hole" and "wormhole," Wheeler popularized the study of general relativity, and advised a distinguished list of graduate students including Kip Thorne and Richard Feynman. Other work included a collaboration with Niels Bohr to develop the "liquid drop" model of nuclear fission. Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said of Dr. Wheeler, "For me, he was the last Titan, the only physics superhero still standing."
reverseengineer writes: Roger D. Kornberg of Stanford University was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his characterization of the proteins associated with transcription (writing the information of DNA to RNA) in eukaryotes. Roger Kornberg is the son of 1959 Medicine Nobel winner Arthur Kornberg. This makes two prizes this year given for research associated with RNA.