By: SUE32073
14 Apr 2004, 10:32 AM EDT
Msg. 147230 of 147235
(This msg. is a reply to 144065 by aven2002.)
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Thought this was worthy of a re-post (taken from post #144065).

Biotech: ASCO Research NEUTRAL
Members will get abstracts before the annual meeting.
These often contain market-moving information.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology is back to its old tricks.

The nonprofit cancer research group, known as ASCO, will once again give its 20,000 physician members early access to research abstracts before its annual meeting in June. ASCO says its member doctors need the abstracts early so they can prepare for the confab, the largest and most important cancer research conference of the year.

But these research abstracts often contain important, market-moving information on how closely watched experimental cancer drugs are faring in clinical studies. Critics say advance dissemination of the abstracts often serves to provide an unfair advantage to certain
institutional investors that may count ASCO members among their investors or paid consultants. Without the luxury of this sneak peek, retail investors will be late to the game and at the mercy of better- informed institutions.

In past years, the early distribution of abstracts prior to ASCO's annual meeting has led to volatility in stocks such as Genentech (DNA:NYSE) , ImClone Systems (IMCL:Nasdaq) and Millennium Pharmaceuticals (MLNM:Nasdaq) , among others.

Last year, ASCO cracked down on information leaks before its annual meeting by not disseminating abstracts to anyone until the start of the meeting. The more restrictive policy followed criticism of ASCO practices, mainly that the group was aiding and abetting the selective disclosure of nonpublic, market-moving information. The Securities and Exchange Commission even began asking questions after first drew attention to ASCO's disclosure policy in 2001.

As a nonprofit, ASCO claims exemption from the SEC's Regulation Fair Disclosure, although the group acknowledged that it was trying to abide by the spirit of the law.

But this year, ASCO is once again loosening its abstract release policy, because it claims that members complained of needing access to the abstracts in advance to better prepare for the meeting. ASCO is obliging them with a two-week head start, according to a letter recently sent to members. In the past, ASCO has given members
abstracts one month before the meeting's start.

ASCO officials have also long been concerned that the data contained in abstracts, which are often preliminary and subject to change, will be misconstrued by the public and doctors if they become public.

"The question was who does ASCO serve -- its members or the financial community? And the answer is the members and their patients," ASCO President-Elect David Johnson told Bloomberg on Friday. Johnson is an oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

ASCO officials would not return phone calls seeking comment from, which has reported on the disclosure controversy every year since 2001.

While ASCO's abstract release policy for the 2004 meeting seems like old times, there is at least one new wrinkle: Abstracts will be made available to members in advance only via printed and mailed copies of the ASCO Proceedings book. There will be no access to abstracts via ASCO's Web site until after the meeting starts. ASCO non-members
won't get their official copies of the ASCO Proceedings book until they arrive on site at the meeting, which is being held this year in New Orleans from June 5 through June 8.

These restrictions may slow the leaking of information contained in the abstracts to Wall Street, but they're unlikely to prevent it.

"It's an inconvenience, that's all," said one biotech hedge fund manager, who fully expects to trade ASCO-related biotech and drug stocks on the basis of leaked abstracts. Instead of going to ASCO's Web site, this fund manager, who requested anonymity, said he and many peers will be standing over their fax machines as copies of
abstracts come through.

So who will be supplying and faxing copies of abstracts to these fund managers? ASCO members, of course. Many cancer doctors and researchers earn hefty side incomes by consulting for institutional health care investors and sell-side analysts looking for the inside track on cancer drug development. Every spring, as the ASCO annual
meeting nears, these paid consulting gigs invariably involve handicapping data that will be presented at the meeting. Giving Wall Street investors an early look at ASCO abstracts is just part of the process.

ASCO is not the only medical organization that is grappling with the best way to release research abstracts in advance of its big medical meeting. But it is one of the few that still selectively discloses such information. The American Society of Hematology was facing the same issues a few years ago, and it decided that the fairest system
would simply be to make abstracts available to everyone -- members, non-members, investors, the media and the general public -- all at the same time, via the group's Web site.

The American Society of Hematology sponsors a large medical meeting focused on blood-related diseases each December. The group has not had any problems or complaints from its members about the new, open abstract distribution policy, according to a spokeswoman.

By: lovin_the_dream
14 Apr 2004, 08:53 AM EDT
Msg. 147214 of 147214

HIV Mutation Has Extra Way of Dodging Detection

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 13 - An allele-associated sequence variation within the flanking region of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes can prevent HIV detection by the immune system, researchers report in the April 5th issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

As senior investigator Dr. Philip J. R. Goulder told Reuters Health, "this study shows that HIV can evade the immune response via an additional mechanism to that which has been best described to date."

"The best characterized method of HIV 'escape'," he noted, "is by variation--mutation--within the fragments of viral proteins--epitopes--that are presented on the surface of the infected cell for recognition by the host immune cells."

However, in a study involving specimens from HLA-57+ HIV infected patients, Dr. Goulder of the University of Oxford, UK and colleagues found mutations that interfered with antigen processing by a different means. Variant virus-infected cells were not well seen in cytotoxicity assays or in viral inhibition assays in vitro.

This study, he continued, "demonstrated that mutations in regions flanking but outside the epitopes, may prevent the epitopes from ever reaching the cell surface. Thus, this is potent mechanism by which the virus can evade the immune response."

"Construction of vaccines," he concluded, "needs to take into account this fact that protein sequences outside particular epitopes may critically affect the presentation of the epitopes."

J Exp Med 2004;199:1-11.

By: kevtod
14 Apr 2004, 12:59 PM EDT
Msg. 147261 of 147271
(This msg. is a reply to 147259 by Keith0228.)
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Not sure who coined the phrase....

But, around here it's always been said....

"The longer it takes, the more imminent it is !!!"