Affymetrix (Santa Clara, California) reported that researchers from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) and the Cardiogenics Consortium have used GeneChip microarray technology to discover several new genetic variations that may increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD) by as much as 36%. The results of the project were published in the July 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Traditionally, scientists performing genetic association studies have had to focus on a specific subset of genes to replicate findings from initial genome scans. WTCCC and Cardiogenics researchers used the same genome-wide Affymetrix GeneChip 500K Arrays to replicate two genetic associations from their two separate internal cohort samples, and to identify four new variations. The Wellcome Trust is an independent charity funding research to improve human and animal health. Affymetrix makes products that provide researchers with a more complete view of the genome.

• Angiotech Pharmaceuticals (Vancouver, British Columbia), along with its corporate partner, Cook Medical (Bloomington, Indiana), reported that the first U.S. patients in the approval trial of a potentially revolutionary new type of drug-eluting stent designed to prevent blockages in arteries outside the heart were treated at Tri-City Medical Center (Oceanside, California). The patients were treated as part of the international Zilver PTX Stent Trial. The study will determine if the same type of drug-eluting technology found in popular drug-coated stents used to treat blockages in the coronary arteries can be used to treat blockages in arteries outside the heart. The Zilver PTX is a self-expanding nitinol stent which uses a polymer-free technology to coat the device with paclitaxel, an antiproliferative drug that has been used successfully to reduce the risk of renarrowing of arteries following angioplasty. Angiotech makes specialty pharmaceutical and medical technologies primarily for local diseases or for complications associated with medical device implants, surgical interventions and acute injury.

• Light Sciences Oncology (Seattle) reported the treatment of the first patient in its Phase III trial of Litx for colorectal cancer metastatic to the liver. The trial is the final trial required before Litx can be submitted to the FDA for marketing approval. Litx uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to activate LS11 (talaporfin sodium). An activated LS11 molecule results in the production of singlet oxygen which can kill target tissues with minimal side effects through vascular closure and apoptosis, or “programmed cell death.” Constant illumination can activate each molecule of LS11 many times, resulting in a continuous supply of singlet oxygen molecules. The palm-sized, single-use, disposable Litx device contains a tiny array of LEDs at the end of a narrow (1.2 mm wide) flexible catheter-like conductor. Administering physicians insert the LED array into a tumor using a biopsy-like procedure requiring only a local anesthetic followed by intravenous injection of LS11. Light Sciences Oncology makes light infusion therapy designed to provide safer and more effective treatment to cancer patients.