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The Lead

Vault nanoparticles show promise for cancer treatment, potential HIV cure

August 22, 2014 9:47 am | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A multidisciplinary team of scientists from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles and Stanford Univ. has used a naturally occurring nanoparticle called a vault to create a novel drug delivery system that could lead to advances in the treatment of cancer and HIV. Their findings could lead to cancer treatments that are more effective with smaller doses and to therapies that could potentially eradicate the HIV virus.

American Ebola doctor urges help fighting outbreak

August 22, 2014 4:25 am | by Kathleen Foody - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

As one of few Ebola survivors with medical expertise, Dr. Kent Brantly seems keenly aware of the...

TB Be Gone

August 21, 2014 4:27 pm | Award Winners

MDR-TB is a growing problem, estimated to kill 170,000 people annually and projected to infect...

Study: Combining vaccines boosts polio immunity

August 21, 2014 3:25 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

New research suggests a one-two punch could help battle polio in some of the world's most remote...

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Lilly psoriasis drug fares well in late-stage test

August 21, 2014 9:20 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said its potential psoriasis treatment fared better than both a fake drug and a competitor's product during late-stage testing on patients with the most common form of the skin disease. The Indianapolis-based company announced initial results from the research on Thursday and said it plans to submit the drug, ixekizumab, to regulators in the first half of next year.

Treating pain by blocking the chili-pepper receptor

August 21, 2014 8:00 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As anyone who has bitten into a chili pepper knows, its burning spiciness—though irresistible to some—is intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper’s effect are using their findings to develop a new drug candidate for many kinds of pain, which can be caused by inflammation or other problems. They reported their progress on the compound, which is being tested in clinical trials, in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Drug for Ebola-like virus promising in ill monkeys

August 20, 2014 3:23 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Texas researchers are reporting that an experimental drug saved monkeys from a virus closely related to Ebola even after symptoms began. The drug targets a strain of Marburg virus that is even more lethal than the Ebola currently ravaging West Africa. Both viruses take time to multiply in the body before symptoms appear, and few studies have explored how late treatment might be effective.

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Biomarker in aggressive breast cancer identified

August 20, 2014 7:53 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Two Northwestern Univ. scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with basal-like breast cancer, a highly aggressive carcinoma that is resistant to many types of chemotherapy. The biomarker, a protein called STAT3, provides a smart target for new therapeutics designed to treat this often deadly cancer.

AstraZeneca says DOJ closes probe into drug trial

August 19, 2014 1:23 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

British drugmaker AstraZeneca says the U.S. Dept. of Justice has closed its investigation into a clinical trial of the company's blood thinner Brilinta, and plans no further action. The company announced in October 2013 that federal officials were looking into the 18,000-patient study, which began in 2009.

Scientists racing to test Ebola vaccines in humans

August 14, 2014 6:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are racing to begin the first human safety tests of two experimental Ebola vaccines, but it won't be easy to prove that the shots and other potential treatments in the pipeline really work. There are no proven drugs or vaccines for Ebola, a disease so rare that it's been hard to attract investments in countermeasures. But the current outbreak in West Africa is fueling new efforts to speed Ebola vaccine and drug development.

Non-invasive method controls size of molecules passing blood-brain barrier

August 14, 2014 4:38 pm | News | Comments

A new technique has demonstrated for the first time that the size of molecules penetrating the blood-brain barrier can be controlled using acoustic pressure. The innovative ultrasound approach uses acoustic pressure to let molecules through, and may help treatment for central nervous system diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Nanotech invention improves effectiveness of the “penicillin of cancer”

August 14, 2014 8:01 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

By combining magnetic nanoparticles with one of the most common and effective chemotherapy drugs, Argonne National Laboratory researchers have created a way to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly into the nucleus of cancer cells. They have created nano-sized bubbles, or “micelles,” that contain magnetic nanoparticles of iron oxide and cisplatin, a conventional chemotherapy drug also known as “the penicillin of cancer.”

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Panel urges second pneumonia shot for older adults

August 13, 2014 5:20 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A federal panel says older Americans should start getting a new vaccine against bacteria that cause pneumonia. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday to recommend a dose of the expensive new shot for people 65 and older. The panel said older adults should still get an older pneumococcal vaccine, too.

An easier way to manipulate malaria genes

August 11, 2014 10:35 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, has proven notoriously resistant to scientists’ efforts to study its genetics. It can take up to a year to determine the function of a single gene, which has slowed efforts to develop new, more targeted drugs and vaccines. Biological engineers have now demonstrated a new genome-editing technique that can disrupt a single parasite gene in a matter of weeks.

In search for Alzheimer’s drug, a major STEP forward

August 7, 2014 8:10 am | by Karen N. Peart, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered a new drug compound that reverses the brain deficits of Alzheimer’s disease in an animal model. The compound, TC-2153, inhibits the negative effects of a protein called STtriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP), which is key to regulating learning and memory. These cognitive functions are impaired in Alzheimer’s.

Ethical issue: Who gets experimental Ebola drug?

August 6, 2014 5:25 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The use of an experimental drug to treat two Americans diagnosed with Ebola is raising ethical questions about who gets first access to unproven new therapies for the deadly disease. But some health experts fear debate over extremely limited doses will distract from tried-and-true measures to curb the growing outbreak.

Model of viral lifecycle could help find cure for hepatitis B

August 5, 2014 4:36 pm | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

A new technique for studying the lifecycle of the hepatitis B virus could help researchers develop a cure for the disease. A recently published paper describes using microfabricated cell cultures to sustain hepatitis B virus in human liver cells, allowing them to study immune responses and drug treatments.

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Advanced thin-film technique could deliver long-lasting medication

August 5, 2014 7:57 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

About one in four older adults suffers from chronic pain. Many of those people take medication, usually as pills. But this is not an ideal way of treating pain: Patients must take medicine frequently, and can suffer side effects, since the contents of pills spread through the bloodstream to the whole body. Now researchers have refined a technique that could enable pain medication to be released directly to specific parts of the body.

Help for halting autism symptoms

August 4, 2014 7:48 am | by Peter Reuell, Harvard Staff Writer | News | Comments

Harvard scientists have identified a method to help reduce autism symptoms in mice, a finding that could one day lead to new insight into how the disorder affects the brains of humans. In a study described in Neuron found that boosting inhibitory neurotransmission early in brain development could reverse deficits in sensory integration associated with autism-like symptoms.

Engineering a protein to prevent brain damage from toxic agents

July 31, 2014 8:28 am | News | Comments

Research at New York Univ. is paving the way for a breakthrough that may prevent brain damage in civilians and military troops exposed to poisonous chemicals—particularly those in pesticides and chemical weapons. An article in ChemBioChem outlines the advancement in detoxifying organophosphates, which are compounds commonly used in pesticides and warfare agents.

Dissolvable fabric loaded with medicine might offer protection against HIV

July 30, 2014 1:54 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Soon, protection from HIV infection could be as simple as inserting a medicated, disappearing fabric minutes before having sex. Univ. of Washington bioengineers have discovered a potentially faster way to deliver a topical drug that protects women from contracting HIV. Their method spins the drug into silk-like fibers that quickly dissolve when in contact with moisture, releasing high doses of the drug.

Forced mutations doom HIV

July 29, 2014 8:16 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Fifteen years ago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor John Essigmann and colleagues from the Univ. of Washington had a novel idea for an HIV drug. They thought if they could induce the virus to mutate uncontrollably, they could force it to weaken and eventually die out—a strategy that our immune system uses against many viruses.

$1,000 pill now hepatitis C treatment of choice

July 29, 2014 3:19 am | by Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A $1,000-per-pill drug that insurers are reluctant to pay for has quickly become the treatment of choice for a liver-wasting viral disease that affects more than three million Americans. In less than six months, prescriptions for Sovaldi have eclipsed all other hepatitis C pills combined, according to new data from IMS Health.

Virus drugmaker fights pediatricians' new advice

July 28, 2014 12:17 am | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A costly drug given mostly to premature babies is at the center of a clash between the manufacturer and the nation's leading pediatrician's group, which recommends scaling back use of the medicine. The dispute involves new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which say medical evidence shows the drug benefits few children other than very young preemies.

FDA approves Gilead Sciences drug for three cancers

July 23, 2014 1:22 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a new cancer drug from Gilead Sciences Inc. to treat three types of blood cancer. Regulators approved the drug for patients with forms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, follicular lymphoma and small lymphocytic lymphoma. The cancers affect an estimated 200,000 patients in the U.S., according to Gilead.

Researchers create vaccine for dust-mite allergies

July 23, 2014 8:32 am | by Richard C. Lewis, Univ. of Iowa | News | Comments

If you’re allergic to dust mites, help may be on the way. Researchers at the Univ. of Iowa have developed a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies by naturally switching the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the nano-sized vaccine package lowered lung inflammation by 83% despite repeated exposure to the allergens.

HIV pills show more promise to prevent infection

July 22, 2014 3:23 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

There is more good news about HIV treatment pills used to prevent infection in people at high risk of getting the AIDS virus: Follow-up from a landmark study that proved the drug works now shows that it does not encourage risky sex and is effective even if people skip some doses.

More than glitter

July 21, 2014 10:35 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

A special class of tiny gold particles can easily slip through cell membranes, making them good candidates to deliver drugs directly to target cells. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology materials scientists reveals that these nanoparticles enter cells by taking advantage of a route normally used in vesicle-vesicle fusion, a crucial process that allows signal transmission between neurons. 

Skin gel stops breast cancer growth without dangerous side effects

July 15, 2014 1:47 pm | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Tamoxifen is an oral drug that is used for breast cancer prevention and as therapy for non-invasive breast cancer and invasive cancer. Seema Khan, a professor of surgery at Northwestern Univ., has found that is tamoxifen is used in gel form, it reduces the growth of cancer cells while minimizing dangerous side effects such as blood clots and uterine cancer.

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