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The Lead

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...

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...

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...

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Prices of cancer drugs have soared since 1995

March 18, 2015 7:37 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The prices of leading cancer drugs have risen at rates far outstripping inflation over the last two decades, according to a new study co-authored by an Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist. But the exact reasons for the cost increases are unclear. Since 1995, a group of 58 leading cancer drugs has increased in price by 10% annually, even when adjusted for inflation and incremental health benefits, the study finds.

Scientists find new class of drugs that dramatically increase healthy lifespan

March 10, 2015 1:56 pm | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

A research team from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Mayo Clinic and other institutions has identified a new class of drugs that in animal models dramatically slows the aging process—alleviating symptoms of frailty, improving cardiac function and extending a healthy lifespan.

Specialty drugs drive prescription spending jump

March 10, 2015 1:43 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Prescription drugs spending jumped 13 percent last year, the biggest annual increase since 2003, according to the nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager.                 

Research Sheds Light on Secrets of Nature's Locomotive

March 10, 2015 8:55 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists have determined the basic structural organization of a molecular motor that hauls cargoes and performs other critical functions within cells. Biologists have long wanted to know how this molecular motor works. But the complex’s large size, myriad subunits and high flexibility have until now restricted structural studies to small pieces of the whole.

Neuropeptide Puts Brakes on Binge Drinking

March 10, 2015 8:32 am | by Univ. of North Carolina School of Medicine | News | Comments

A new study has identified both where and how a protein in the brain, called Neuropeptide Y (NPY), can act to suppress binge alcohol drinking. The find suggests that restoring NPY may be useful for treating alcohol use disorders and may also protect some individuals from becoming alcohol dependent.

Heart-on-a-chip Aids Drug Screening

March 9, 2015 8:00 am | by UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Bioengineers are presenting a network of pulsating cardiac muscle cells housed in an inch-long silicone device that effectively models human heart tissue. They have demonstrated the viability of this system as a drug-screening tool by testing it with cardiovascular medications.  

Cancer drug first tested in dogs begins human trials

February 27, 2015 8:03 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

A new drug that prompts cancer cells to self-destruct while sparing healthy cells is now entering phase I clinical trials in humans. The drug, called PAC-1, first showed promise in the treatment of pet dogs with spontaneously occurring cancers, and is still in clinical trials in dogs with osteosarcoma.

Can an HIV drug beat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria?

February 25, 2015 8:44 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

With antibiotic resistance on the rise, scientists are looking for innovative ways to combat bacterial infections. The pathogen that causes conditions from strep throat to flesh-eating disease is among them, but scientists have now found a tool that could help them fight it: a drug approved to treat HIV. Their work, appearing in ACS Chemical Biology, could someday lead to new treatments.

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