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Genzyme Drug Shortage

Genzyme was forced to temporarily shutter one of its manufacturing facilities last summer when a virus was found to have contaminated its products. According to an article in the New York Times, users of Genzyme's drugs are suffering. "Some of those patients now say they feel betrayed by the company they once viewed as their savior, wondering why Genzyme did not have a sufficient reserve of such vital drugs and how the company could have stumbled so badly in trying to fix its production problems," writes the Times' Andrew Pollack. Patients have to go without two drugs: Cerezyme for Gaucher disease and Fabrazyme for Fabry disease. Both diseases are caused by enzyme deficiencies that damage organs. The drugs are expensive, costing a single user about $200,000 a year. Genzyme says it will have supplies of Cerezyme available on May 1 and Fabrazyme "perhaps in the third quarter," Pollack adds. In the meantime, the FDA is allowing two of Genzyme's competitors, Shire and Protalix Biotherapeutics, to provide patients with their Gaucher disease therapies, before gaining regulatory approval.

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.