US giant Pfizer is buying PowderMed, a vaccine company based in Oxford, UK, for an undisclosed sum. The move reflects burgeoning interest in vaccines among major drug companies in light of the threat of a global flu pandemic, analysts say. PowderMed — which started up two years ago as a spin-off from Chiron, the biotechnology company — is developing vaccines for flu, cancer and AIDS. The vaccines work by using fragments of DNA, blown into the skin. Once the DNA is expressed by cells in the skin, the resulting antigen stimulates an immune response.
Louis Gallois, the new chief executive of Airbus, has warned of “painful” job cuts ahead as the airliner manufacturer adjusts to production problems with its new superjumbo, the A380 (see Nature 443, 385; 2006). Reports suggest that up to 10,000 jobs could go at production plants in France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Airbus has repeatedly delayed delivery dates for its new airliner, with problems said to be connected to the intricate way in which production is divided between the four nations.
Genentech has reported surging profits for the quarter ending in September, with a 58% increase over the corresponding period in 2005. The biotech company's income was driven by US sales of more than $1.8 billion — up by 34% on the previous year. Genentech, based in South San Francisco, sells high-value anticancer agents based on antibodies, including Rituxan for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Avastin for colon cancer. Lucentis, the company's new drug for age-related vision loss, has already logged sales of $153 million since its launch in June.