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Seeking answers from a mysterious parasite

December 1, 2014 9:48 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite often spread by cats. Most people who are infected in Europe or North America show no symptoms at all, and only a few suffer from encephalitis or ocular toxoplasmosis, which can cause blindness. However, in South America, toxoplasmosis is associated with much more severe symptoms.

Ebola vaccine seems safe in first-stage testing

November 26, 2014 6:00 pm | by By Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

An experimental Ebola vaccine appears safe and triggered signs of immune protection in the first 20 volunteers to test it, U.S. researchers reported. The vaccine is designed to spur the immune system's production of anti-Ebola antibodies, and people developed them within four weeks of getting the shots at the National Institutes of Health.

A hybrid vehicle that delivers DNA

November 26, 2014 7:46 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

A new hybrid vehicle is under development. Its performance isn’t measured by the distance it travels, but rather the delivery of its cargo: vaccines that contain genetically engineered DNA to fight HIV, cancer, influenza and other maladies. The technology is a biomedical advancement that could help unleash the potential of DNA vaccines, which despite much research, have yet to make a significant impact in the treatment of major illnesses.

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How turkeys may be lifesavers

November 25, 2014 4:51 pm | by Todd Hollingshead, Brigham Young Univ. | News | Comments

While the turkey you eat on Thursday will bring your stomach happiness and could probably kick-start an afternoon nap, it may also save your life one day. That’s because the biological machinery needed to produce a potentially life-saving antibiotic is found in turkeys. Looks like there is one more reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving.

Angiogenesis drug could provide treatment for TB

November 25, 2014 9:27 am | by Karl Bates, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

The body responds to tuberculosis infection by locking the bacterial offenders into tiny clusters of immune cells called granulomas, which are a hallmark of the disease. This containment strategy succeeds at first, but eventually the bacteria manage to break out of these intercellular jails and spread throughout the body.

Life’s extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugs

November 24, 2014 9:29 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ. | News | Comments

One of the most mysterious forms of life may turn out to be a rich and untapped source of antibacterial drugs. The mysterious life form is Archaea, a family of single-celled organisms that thrive in environments like boiling hydrothermal pools and smoking deep sea vents which are too extreme for most other species to survive.

Researchers create first inhibitor for enzyme linked to certain cancers

November 21, 2014 7:49 am | by Univ. of California, Irvine | News | Comments

Recent studies showing acid ceramidase (AC) to be upregulated in melanoma, lung and prostate cancers have made the enzyme a desired target for novel synthetic inhibitor compounds. In Angewandte Chemie, scientists with the Univ. of California, Irvine School of Medicine and the Italian Institute of Technology describe the very first class of AC inhibitors that may aid in the efficacy of chemotherapies.

U.S. approves new, hard-to-abuse hydrocodone pill

November 20, 2014 6:00 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

U.S. government health regulators on Thursday approved the first hard-to-abuse version of the painkiller hydrocodone, offering an alternative to a similar medication that has been widely criticized for lacking such safeguards. The FDA approved Purdue Pharma's Hysingla ER for patients with severe, round-the-clock pain that cannot be managed with other treatments.

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Government wants more clinical trial results made public

November 19, 2014 3:00 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The government proposed new rules Wednesday to make it easier for doctors and patients to learn if clinical trials of treatments worked or not. Thousands of Americans participate in clinical trials every year, testing new treatments, comparing old ones or helping to uncover general knowledge about health. Many of the studies are reported in scientific journals and trumpeted in the news.

Computer model sets new precedent in drug discovery

November 19, 2014 8:52 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Videos | Comments

A major challenge faced by the pharmaceutical industry has been how to rationally design and select protein molecules to create effective biologic drug therapies while reducing unintended side effects—a challenge that has largely been addressed through costly guess–and–check experiments. Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. offer a new approach.

Study will test survivors' blood to treat Ebola

November 18, 2014 11:00 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A coalition of companies and aid groups announced plans Tuesday to test experimental drugs and collect blood plasma from Ebola survivors to treat new victims of the disease in West Africa. Plasma from survivors contains antibodies, substances the immune system makes to fight the virus.

Scientists reveal weak spots in Ebola’s defenses

November 18, 2014 9:27 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have identified weak spots on the surface of Ebola virus that are targeted by the antibodies in ZMapp, the experimental drug cocktail administered to several patients during the recent Ebola outbreak. The study provides a revealing 3-D picture of how the ZMapp antibodies bind to Ebola virus.

Chemical disguise transforms RNAi drug delivery

November 18, 2014 7:57 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Small pieces of synthetic RNA trigger a RNA interference (RNAi) response that holds great therapeutic potential to treat a number of diseases, especially cancer and pandemic viruses. The problem is delivery: It’s extremely difficult to get RNAi drugs inside the cells in which they are needed.

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Heart stents may require longer blood thinner use

November 16, 2014 5:00 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Millions of people with stents that prop open clogged heart arteries may need anti-clotting drugs much longer than the one year doctors recommend now. A large study found that continuing for another 18 months lowers the risk of heart attacks, clots and other problems. Even quitting after 30 months made a heart attack more likely, raising a question of when it's ever safe to stop.

2015 R&D 100 Awards entries now open

November 13, 2014 11:27 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | News | Comments

The editors of R&D Magazine have announced the opening of the 2015 R&D 100 Awards entry process. The R&D 100 Awards have a 50 plus year history of awarding the 100 most technologically significant products of the year. Past winners have included sophisticated testing equipment, innovative new materials, chemistry breakthroughs, biomedical products, consumer items, high-energy physics and more.

Drugging the undruggable

November 13, 2014 11:07 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A trawl through a library of more than 50,000 small molecules has identified a potential candidate to inhibit the spread of cancer cells throughout the body. Reported in Nature Communications, the molecule targets a mechanism of tumor development that had previously been considered “undruggable” and could open the door to further promising new candidates.

Regulatory, scientific complexity of generic nanodrugs could delay savings for patients

November 13, 2014 8:07 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Nanomedicine is offering patients a growing arsenal of therapeutic drugs for a variety of diseases, but often at a cost of thousands of dollars a month. Generics could substantially reduce the price tag for patients—if only there were a well-defined way to make and regulate them. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) details the challenges on the road to generic nanodrugs.

Gene study boosts interest in heart drug Zetia

November 12, 2014 5:59 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered gene mutations that give people naturally lower cholesterol levels and cut their risk of heart disease in half. That discovery may have a big implication: A blockbuster drug that mimics these mutations has long been sold without evidence that it cuts the chance of heart disease. Results of a large study that looked for that evidence will be revealed on Monday.

“Antibiogram” use in nursing facilities could improve antibiotic use

November 11, 2014 10:05 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Use of “antibiograms” in skilled nursing facilities could improve antibiotic effectiveness and help address problems with antibiotic resistance. Antibiograms are tools that aid health care practitioners in prescribing antibiotics in local populations. They are based on information from microbiology laboratory tests and provide information on how likely a certain antibiotic is to effectively treat a particular infection.

Catalyst-where-you-want-it method expands possibilities for new drug development

November 10, 2014 11:13 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry have described a method for creating and modifying organic compounds that overcomes a major limitation of previous methods. The advance opens up a large number of novel chemical structures for synthesis and evaluation, for example, as candidate pharmaceuticals.

Inhaled Ebola vaccine may offer long-term protection from virus

November 3, 2014 1:43 pm | by J.B. Bird, Univ. of Texas at Austin | News | Comments

A potentially breathable, respiratory vaccine in development has been shown to provide long-term protection for non-human primates against the deadly Ebola virus. Results from a recent pre-clinical study represent the only proof to date that a single dose of a non-injectable vaccine platform for Ebola is long lasting, which could have significant global implications in controlling future outbreaks.

Are my muscular dystrophy drugs working?

October 30, 2014 8:25 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

People with muscular dystrophy could one day assess the effectiveness of their medication with the help of a smartphone-linked device, a new study in mice suggests. The study used a new method to process ultrasound imaging information that could lead to hand-held instruments that provide fast, convenient medical information.

How microbes build a powerful antibiotic

October 27, 2014 10:32 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers report in Nature that they have made a breakthrough in understanding how a powerful antibiotic agent is made in nature. Their discovery solves a decades-old mystery, and opens up new avenues of research into thousands of similar molecules, many of which are likely to be medically useful. 

New hope in treating African sleeping sickness

October 27, 2014 7:53 am | by Joe O'Connell, Staff Writer, Northeastern Univ. | News | Comments

In early drug dis­covery, you need a starting point. In a new research paper pub­lished in PLOS-Neglected Trop­ical Dis­eases, a team of researchers present hun­dreds of such starting points for poten­tially treating Human African try­panoso­mi­asis, or sleeping sick­ness, a deadly dis­ease that affects thou­sands of people annually.

Implantable device remotely releases therapeutic drugs, on Earth or in orbit

October 24, 2014 10:28 am | News | Comments

Houston Methodist Research Institute scientists will receive about $1.25 million from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to develop an implantable, nanochannel device that delivers therapeutic drugs at a rate guided by remote control. The device's effectiveness will be tested aboard the International Space Station and on Earth's surface.

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