Business briefs: AbbVie, Teva, HIV, Diabetes, iPhone

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AbbVie's R&D division is shrinking. Pharmalot reports the drug company has pink-slipped around 90 staff in the dermatology, gastroenterology and renal divisions, along with 10 additional scientists for a grand total of 100 jobs. The move follows an April announcement that R&D chief John Leonard was leaving the company.

Teva's latest FDA filing could extend Copaxone's patent just a bit longer – the company announced Thursday it has filed an sNDA for a three-times-a-week 40mg dose of the multiple sclerosis drug. The new formulation is twice that of the daily injection, which is set to lose its patent protection next year. In addition to battling competition like Biogen Idec's Tysabri, the drug is also now up against Biogen Idec's Tecfidera. Leerink Swann analyst Seamus Fernandez said in his Thursday research note that a 40mg approval could “preserve the franchise beyond 2015” and that a survey indicated 50% of polled physicians would migrate patients to the three-times-a-week dose. That same survey showed how Tecfidera is expected to rise over the next three years and others will decline – the survey showed Copaxone use dropping from 22.7% of a physician's MS patients to 14.1% by 2016, with Tecfidera rising from 1% to 16.3% over that same period. Avonex and Betaseron are also projected to decline, while docs said they anticipated an uptick in Genzyme's Aubagio, from 0.9% to 4.4% by 2016.

University of Pittsburgh researchers have broken the genetic code of the HIV virus' protective protein coat, which is called a capsid. The discovery that could help scientists find a way to disable the virus, reports US News, because it means that researchers can now attack the outer coat in two ways – by finding a way to super-seal the capsid so it contains the virus without letting it infect cells, or by weakening the armor to disable the virus before it has a chance to enter cells and replicate. Peijun Zhang, who worked on the study told US News that this opens up a new way to attack the virus, as most therapies focus on RNA, which helps the virus replicate.

Blood glucose meters are drawing negative attention among researchers who convened at the May Diabetes Technology Society meeting. AARP reports that studies indicate blood glucose monitors generally fail to meet the FDA's 95% accuracy requirement and that the agency is aware of the problem.

A prototype sensor developed at the University of Illinois could turn iPhones into virus and bacteria detection devices, reports Mobihealth News. If successful, it would mean a biosensor made of around $200 in parts could challenge $50,000 lab spectrophotometers.

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