Tethys predicts your potential diabetic future

Suppose a simple blood test were to tell you that you’ve got a better than 50 percent chance of developing “type 2″ diabetes — a form of the disease long associated with age and obesity — within the next five years. Would you make the recommended lifestyle changes, by eating right and exercising more? Would you even consider starting lifelong medication that might postone or prevent the disease entirely?

Pelikan Tech to push "finger friendly" diabetes testing

One of the constant but unavoidable challenges in trying to control diabetes is the frequent need to test blood-sugar levels by sticking a needle into a fingertip — a step that tells diabetics when they need a snack (to raise blood glucose) or a shot of insulin (to lower it). “Lancing” fingers several times a day can render the tips so tender that it restricts ordinary activity — playing the piano, for instance — for some diabetics. While that may sound like a minor inconvenience compared to the awful side effects that uncontrolled diabetes can cause, such as gangrene and blindness, it’s often enough to keep some diabetics from testing their blood as frequently as they should.

Roundup: Genetic links to breast cancer, Avandia under attack, death and the drug official, and more

More genetic links for breast cancer — Whole-genome association studies that tease out links between minute genetic variations and the likelihood of disease are definitely building momentum. Over the last several days, researchers reported six new variations that increase the risk of breast cancer for women who have inherited them. (For background, see this Boston Globe piece or my recent take on the subject.) It’s now conceivable that scientists may soon have an excellent handle on the genetic contributions to this particular disease.

Sirtris Pharma raises $60M in IPO

Cambridge, Mass., based Sirtris Pharmaceuticals raised at least $60 million in an initial offering, after pricing six million shares in the middle of its anticipated range of $9 to $11 apiece. The company is developing drugs that aim to mimic the health benefits of calorie-restricted diets, which have been shown to greatly extend life in a variety of animals. Sirtris’ drugs are designed to activate a protein called Sirt1, which some scientists believe may be responsible for the beneficial effects of caloric restriction.

Marcadia Biotech pulls in $15M for hypoglycemia drug

Marcadia Biotech, an Indianapolis biotech focused on diabetes and obesity, raised $15 million in a first round of funding led by Frazier Healthcare Ventures and founding investor 5AM Ventures. Founding investor Twilight Venture Partners also joined the round. The company’s announcement is here.

Brazil's great stem-cell experiment

[Editor's note: David Hamilton, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, has covered the biotech sector for years and we're delighted to have him as a contributor on news and trends in biotech, health and science (we've already run a few of his pieces). Biotech and health start-ups haven't been a VentureBeat focus, but they're important. We plan to create a separate forum for his work, and point to his more important stuff from VentureBeat.]