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The Lead

Delivering drugs to the right place

June 26, 2015 6:37 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

For the 12 million people worldwide who suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), an inherited disorder with no known cure, a new treatment option may be on the horizon. PKD is a condition in which clusters of benign cysts develop within the kidneys. They vary in size, and as they accumulate more and more fluid, they can become very large. Among the common complications of PKD are high blood pressure and kidney failure.

Re-energizing antibiotics in the war against infections

June 24, 2015 5:00 pm | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Videos | Comments

Antibiotics are the mainstay in the treatment of bacterial infections, and together with...

Medication may stop drug and alcohol addiction

June 23, 2015 8:47 am | by Marc Airhart, Univ. of Texas at Austin | News | Comments

Researchers at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have successfully stopped cocaine and alcohol...

Researchers successfully target Achilles heel of MERS virus

June 17, 2015 7:49 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ.-led team of researchers studying the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS,...

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Common antibiotic may be the answer to multidrug-resistant bacterial infections

June 11, 2015 7:44 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Contrary to current medical dogma, researchers at Univ. of California, San Diego report the common antibiotic azithromycin kills many multidrug-resistant bacteria very effectively. The researchers believe the finding could prompt an immediate review of the current standard of care for patients with certain so-called “superbug” infections.

Body’s response to spicy foods guides design of pain relief drugs

June 10, 2015 7:42 am | by Carole Gan, Univ. of California, Davis | Videos | Comments

Univ. of California, Davis, researchers have identified the molecular interactions that allow capsaicin to activate the body’s primary receptor for sensing heat and pain, paving the way for the design of more selective and effective drugs to relieve pain. Capsaicin is the ingredient that makes chili peppers spicy and hot.

Past failures pave way for promising Alzheimer’s treatments

June 5, 2015 7:43 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Since 2002, close to 300 drug candidates to treat Alzheimer’s have run into clinical dead ends. But now, having learned from those failures, researchers are testing—and retesting—a batch of the most promising compounds designed to slow the disease’s progression. An article in Chemical & Engineering News describes what made this possible and what lies ahead.

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Using robots to assemble promising antimicrobial compounds

June 2, 2015 8:14 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

There’s an urgent demand for new antimicrobial compounds that are effective against constantly emerging drug-resistant bacteria. Two robotic chemical-synthesizing machines, named Symphony X and Overture, have joined the search. Their specialty is creating custom nanoscale structures that mimic nature’s proven designs. They’re also fast, able to assemble dozens of compounds at a time.

Diagnosing cancer with help from bacteria

May 28, 2015 11:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of California at San Diego have devised a new way to detect cancer that has spread to the liver, by enlisting help from probiotics, beneficial bacteria similar to those found in yogurt. Many types of cancer, including colon and pancreatic, tend to metastasize to the liver. The earlier doctors can find these tumors, the more likely that they can successfully treat them.

Anti-stroke drug effective treatment for middle-ear infections

May 21, 2015 3:13 pm | by LaTina Emerson, Georgia State Univ. | News | Comments

An existing anti-stroke drug is an effective treatment for middle-ear infections, showing the ability to suppress mucus overproduction, improve bacterial clearance and reduce hearing loss, according to researchers at Georgia State Univ. and the Univ. of Rochester. The findings could result in a novel, non-antibiotic treatment for otitis media, or middle-ear infection, possibly through topical drug delivery.

Experimental Ebola treatment boosts survival in mice

May 21, 2015 8:25 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The number of new Ebola cases is tapering off, but the search for new treatments continues. Now, one research team has found potential drug candidates that successfully treated up to 90% of mice exposed to the Ebola virus. They report their findings in ACS Infectious Diseases.

Cancer drugs may hold key to treating Down syndrome

May 20, 2015 7:51 am | by Ian Demsky, Univ. of Michigan | Videos | Comments

A class of FDA-approved cancer drugs may be able to prevent problems with brain cell development associated with disorders including Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, researchers at the Univ. of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have found. The researchers' proof-of-concept study using fruit fly models of brain dysfunction was published in eLife.

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Discovery paves way for homebrewed drugs

May 18, 2015 11:22 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But a research team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.

New target for anti-malaria drugs

May 14, 2015 9:06 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

A new target for drug development in the fight against the deadly disease malaria has been discovered by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a recently published paper, the researchers describe how they identified the drug target while studying the way in which the parasites Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, and Plasmodium, which causes malaria, access vital nutrients from their host cells.

Infant antibiotic use linked to adult diseases

May 14, 2015 8:02 am | by Lacey Nygard, Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

A new study led by researchers at the Univ. of Minnesota has found a three-way link among antibiotic use in infants, changes in the gut bacteria and disease later in life. The imbalances in gut microbes, called dysbiosis, have been tied to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and obesity later in life.

Healing plants inspire new compounds for psychiatric drugs

May 12, 2015 8:02 am | by Erin Spain, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Treatments used by traditional healers in Nigeria have inspired scientists at Northwestern Univ. to synthesize four new chemical compounds that could one day lead to better therapies for people with psychiatric disorders. In a recently published paper, the scientists detail how they created these natural compounds by completing the first total syntheses of two indole alkaloids: alstonine and serpentine.

Combination treatment strategy to “checkmate” giloblastoma

May 11, 2015 8:09 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Therapies that specifically target mutations in a person’s cancer have been much-heralded in recent years, yet cancer cells often find a way around them. To address this, researchers identified a promising combinatorial approach to treating glioblastomas, the most common form of primary brain cancer.

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Potential painkiller provides longer lasting effects

May 7, 2015 1:40 pm | by Derek Thompson, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia | News | Comments

Medications have long been used to treat pain caused by injury or chronic conditions. Unfortunately, most are short-term fixes or cause side effects that limit their use. Researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have discovered a new compound that offers longer lasting painkilling effects, and shows promise as an alternative to current anesthetics.

A “super cool” way to deliver drugs

May 6, 2015 11:52 am | by George Hunka, American Friends of Tel Aviv Univ. | News | Comments

Water, when cooled below 32 F, eventually freezes. But some substances, when they undergo a process called "rapid-freezing" or "supercooling," remain in liquid form. The supercooling phenomenon has been studied for its possible applications in a wide spectrum of fields. A new Tel Aviv Univ. study published in Scientific Reports is the first to break down the rules governing the complex process of crystallization through rapid-cooling.

Inhibitor for abnormal protein points way to more selective cancer drugs

April 16, 2015 8:20 am | by Dave Zobel, Caltech | News | Comments

Nowhere is the adage "form follows function" more true than in the folded chain of amino acids that makes up a single protein macromolecule. But proteins are very sensitive to errors in their genetic blueprints. One single-letter DNA "misspelling" (called a point mutation) can alter a protein's structure or electric charge distribution enough to render it ineffective or even deleterious.

Scientists uncover how molecule protects brain cells in parkinson's disease model

April 15, 2015 11:37 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

These findings could provide valuable insight into the development of drug candidates that could protect brain cells in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

New ebola study points to potential drug target

April 13, 2015 2:04 pm | by Michael C. Purdy, WUSTL | News | Comments

Opening the door to potential treatments for the deadly Ebola virus, scientists have found that a protein made by the virus plays a role similar to that of a coat-check attendant.

Specialty, generic drug costs drive Medicaid costs up

April 11, 2015 2:04 pm | by Marie French, Associated Press | News | Comments

The high cost of a drug used to treat Medicaid patients with hepatitis C drew scrutiny from lawmakers earlier this year, but other drugs are also driving up the state's costs and likely will continue to do so for several years, government data reveals. From fiscal year 2010 through 2014, drug costs for Missouri's Medicaid program rose 33%, to $1.16 billion.

Cancer genes turned off in deadly brain cancer

April 6, 2015 10:55 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Northwestern Medicine scientists have identified a small RNA molecule called miR-182 that can suppress cancer-causing genes in mice with glioblastoma mulitforme (GBM), a deadly and incurable type of brain tumor. While standard chemotherapy drugs damage DNA to stop cancer cells from reproducing, the new method stops the source that creates those cancer cells: genes that are overexpressing certain proteins.

Experimental cancer drug restores memory in mouse model of Alzheimer’s

March 31, 2015 11:12 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Memory and as well as connections between brain cells were restored in mice with a model of Alzheimer’s given an experimental cancer drug, Yale School of Medicine researchers reported in the Annals of Neurology. The drug, AZD05030, developed by Astra Zeneca proved disappointing in treating solid tumors but appears to block damage triggered during the formation of amyloid-beta plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

New drug stalls estrogen receptor-positive cancer cells, shrinks tumors

March 31, 2015 7:43 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

An experimental drug rapidly shrinks most tumors in a mouse model of human breast cancer, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When mice were treated with the experimental drug, BHPI, the tumors immediately stopped growing and began shrinking rapidly.

FDA to scrutinize unproven alternative remedies

March 26, 2015 12:05 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal officials plan to review the safety and evidence behind alternative remedies like Zicam and Cold-Eeze, products that are protected by federal law, but not accepted by mainstream medicine. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will hold a two-day meeting next month on regulations for homeopathic medicines, which have long occupied a place on the fringes of U.S. health care.

Science, patients driving rare disease drug research surge

March 25, 2015 12:10 pm | by Linda A. Johnson, AP Business Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The global pharmaceutical industry is pouring billions of dollars into developing treatments for rare diseases, which once drew little interest from major drugmakers but now point the way toward a new era of innovative therapies and big profits. The investments come as researchers harness recent scientific advances.

Genomewide screen of learning in zebrafish identifies enzyme important in neural circuit

March 23, 2015 11:37 am | by Karen Kreeger, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Pennsylvania describe the first set of genes important in learning in a zebrafish model in Neuron. Using in-depth analysis of one of the genes, the team has revealed an important signaling pathway. According to the researchers, the proteins in this pathway could provide new insights into the development of novel pharmacological targets.

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