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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.

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$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.

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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.

Study: Spoonfuls can lead to medicine errors

July 14, 2014 12:21 am | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The song says a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but a study says that kind of imprecise measurement can lead to potentially dangerous dosing mistakes. The results, published online in Pediatrics, underscore recommendations that droppers and syringes that measure in milliliters be used for liquid medicines—not spoons.

Trial: Dengue shot offers some protection

July 11, 2014 7:21 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The most advanced vaccine for dengue only offers modest protection but could still help millions of people avoid the devastating effects of the disease known as "breakbone fever," according to a large trial. There's no treatment for dengue, which causes symptoms including fever, joint pain, headaches and bleeding. About half the world's population is at risk from the mosquito-borne disease, which sickens about 100 million people every year.

New technologies fuel patient participation, data collection in research

July 10, 2014 9:06 am | by Duke Medicine News and Communications | News | Comments

The changing dynamic of health studies driven by “big data” research projects will empower patients to become active participants who provide real-time information such as symptoms, side effects and clinical outcomes, according to researchers at Duke Medicine. The analysislays out a new paradigm for health research, particularly comparative effectiveness studies that are designed to assess which therapies work best in clinical practice.

Study: Psych drug ER trips approach 90,000 a year

July 9, 2014 6:23 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Bad reactions to psychiatric drugs result in nearly 90,000 emergency room visits each year by U.S. adults, with anti-anxiety medicines and sedatives among the most common culprits, a study suggests. A drug used in some popular sleeping pills was among the most commonly involved sedatives, especially in adults aged 65 and older.

Tiny DNA pyramids enter bacteria easily

July 9, 2014 11:49 am | News | Comments

Bacterial infections usually announce themselves with pain and fever but often can be defeated with antibiotics—and then there are those that are sneaky and hard to beat. Now, scientists have built a new weapon against such pathogens in the form of tiny DNA pyramids. Published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, their study found the nanopyramids can flag bacteria and kill more of them than medicine alone.

Scientists find potential new use for cancer drug

June 27, 2014 7:19 am | News | Comments

Scientists working to make gene therapy a reality have solved a major hurdle: how to bypass a blood stem cell’s natural defenses and efficiently insert disease-fighting genes into the cell’s genome. In a new study, a team of researchers report that the drug rapamycin, which is commonly used to slow cancer growth, enables delivery of a therapeutic dose of genes to blood stem cells while preserving stem cell function.

Using femtosecond lasers to administer drugs

June 25, 2014 7:59 am | by Kathleen Estes, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology | News | Comments

A team of scientists in Japan and New Zealand have combined lasers, nanotechnology, and neuroscience to develop a new, versatile drug delivery system. The precise timing of a femtosecond laser is used to release dopamine, a neurochemical, that is dysfunctional in Parkinson’s Disease in a controlled and repeatable manner that mimics the natural dynamic release mechanism.

Delivering drugs on cue

June 24, 2014 7:43 am | News | Comments

Current drug delivery systems used to administer chemotherapy to cancer patients typically release a constant dose of the drug over time, but a new study challenges this "slow and steady" approach and offers a novel way to locally deliver the drugs "on demand," as reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Protons power protein portal to push zinc out of cells

June 23, 2014 8:01 am | News | Comments

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins Univ. report they have deciphered the inner workings of a protein called YiiP that prevents the lethal buildup of zinc inside bacteria. They say understanding YiiP's movements will help in the design of drugs aimed at modifying the behavior of ZnT proteins, eight human proteins that are similar to YiiP, which play important roles in hormone secretion and in signaling between neurons.

FDA approves Cubist antibiotic for skin infections

June 20, 2014 7:21 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new antibiotic from Cubist Pharmaceuticals to treat common skin infections often acquired in the hospital. Regulators cleared the company's Sivextro as a pill and as an intravenous solution for adults with skin infections caused by bacteria that are often resistant to older antibiotics.

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