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FDA approves 2nd Merck tablet to reduce immune response to allergies, this time for ragweed

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. - U.S. regulators have again approved a Merck Ragwitek tablets dissolve quickly under the tongue. Patients are to take one daily, from three months before ragweed season begins until it ends, for a few years. The Food and Drug Administration approved it for patients aged 18 through 65. Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck's tablet for spring grass allergies, Grastek, was approved Monday for patients aged 5 to 65. Both offer an alternative to medicines that just temporarily relieve symptoms or years of uncomfortable allergy shots.

FDA approves Merck's Grastek, an immunotherapy tablet to gradually reduce grass allergies

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. - Merck Meant as an alternative to weekly allergy shots, the tablet dissolves under the tongue. Taken daily for a few years, it gradually reduces sensitivity to common grasses, instead of temporarily relieving symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., will market the tablet in North America. Its partner, ALK-Abello, sells it in Europe as Grazas.

Scientists regenerate immune organ in mice

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists have for the first time used regenerative medicine to fully restore an organ in a living animal, a discovery they say may pave the way for similar techniques to be used in humans in future. The University of Edinburgh team rebuilt the thymus - an organ central to the immune system and found in front of the heart - of very old mice by reactivating a natural mechanism that gets shut down with age.

Ontario needs organ donors to register; 1,500 people on waiting list

TORONTO - The provincial agency that co-ordinates organ transplants warns many of the 1,500 people in Ontario on the waiting list may die because there are not enough organs to meet the need. Many people who want to donate their organs don't realize that signing the card that used to be sent out with driver's licences is not good, said Ronnie Gavsie, CEO of the Trillium Gift of Life Network. She says that to guarantee their wishes to become a donor are known, people need to register online (at or at a ServiceOntario centre.

Stress in pregnancy linked to children's asthma risk

By David Douglas NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Stress during pregnancy brought on by events like divorce, job loss or death of a loved one appears to be linked to an increased risk of asthma and eczema among children. These findings, Dr. Petra Arck told Reuters Health in an email, could "allow clinicians to evaluate future asthma risk in unborn children using a simple life event assessment questionnaire."

FDA OKs 1st dissolving immunotherapy tablet for seasonal allergies; 2 from Merck await ruling

TRENTON, N.J. - The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it has approved the first tablet in the U.S. for gradually reducing hay fever symptoms, an alternative to months of weekly doctor visits for uncomfortable allergy-desensitizing shots. Oralair was approved for patients ages 10 through 65. It's made by France's Stallergenes SA, a leader in immunotherapy medicines that dissolve under the tongue.

Stallergenes wins U.S. go-ahead for Oralair allergy pill

CHICAGO/PARIS (Reuters) - France's Stallergenes has received U.S. regulatory approval to sell the first immunotherapy pill against grass allergies in the world's biggest pharmaceutical market, sending its shares up 6 percent on Wednesday. Stallergenes has said it sees a potential U.S. market of nearly 3 million patients that will eventually be worth $1 billion in annual sales for these types of drugs. "That's very positive news as the group is considerably expanding its market," Gilbert Dupont analysts wrote in a note.

Stallergenes gains U.S. FDA approval for Oralair allergy drug

(Reuters) - France's Stallergenes said on Tuesday it received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's green light to sell its immunotherapy pill Oralair for treating grass allergies. The drug is a fast-dissolving tablet to be placed under the tongue that contains extracts from five grass pollens: sweet vernal, orchard, perennial rye, timothy and Kentucky bluegrass. It harnesses the immune system to alleviate allergies and is an alternative to current injectable treatments.

Amgen vaccine triggers immune response in advanced melanoma: study

By Bill Berkrot (Reuters) - An experimental Amgen Inc cancer vaccine used to treat advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, proved effective in a late-stage study in shrinking tumors in a way that suggests the drug triggered the intended systemic immune response, according to data presented on Friday. The vaccine shrank tumors that were directly injected with the drug and tumors around the body that were injected, according to the data.

Spain police foil liver-trafficking bid

Spanish police said Wednesday they had arrested five people accused of offering cash to poor immigrants to buy a liver for transplant, the first such trafficking racket uncovered in Spain. "Five people were detained for offering 40,000 euros ($55,000) to immigrants without resources so that they would offer themselves for a liver transplant... the first attempted sale of organs detected in Spain," a police statement said.
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