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Something New: Apr 12, 2011

The biopharma industry is facing some tough times, says Forbes' David Shaywitz. Old products' patents are expiring and new products are hard to come by. But the pharma industry isn't entirely to blame for this lack of innovation — academia is also coming up short, Shaywitz says, adding, "My sense is that if scientists from both universities and industry had been able to better characterize and more deeply understanding the fundamental basis of most dreadful diseases, then more effective drugs would certainly have been forthcoming." While both academia and industry have their problems, an "emerging hope" is taking shape, he says. One of the problems standing the way of innovation is that researchers don't communication with each other. What's needed is collaboration and "open innovation," which could help find new uses for existing medications, Shaywitz says. "First, the research highlights the value of open innovation, of permitting those with the best understanding of 'the problem to be solved' to actually solve the problem," he adds. "Second, it also highlights the role of the inquisitive physician, and emphasizes the impact an impassioned physician can have in the development of new medical therapies."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.