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Within tarantula venom, new hope for safe painkillers found

February 19, 2014 9:19 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Screening more than 100 spider toxins, Yale Univ. researchers identified a protein from the venom of the Peruvian green velvet tarantula that blunts activity in pain-transmitting neurons. The findings, reported in Current Biology, show the new screening method used by the scientists has the potential to search millions of different spider toxins for safe pain-killing drugs and therapies.

Hitchhiking vaccines boost immunity

February 18, 2014 8:04 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Many vaccines consist of a killed or disabled version of a virus. However, for certain diseases, this type of vaccine is ineffective, or just too risky. An alternative, safer approach is a vaccine made of small fragments of proteins produced by a disease-causing virus or bacterium. This has worked for some diseases, but in many cases these vaccines don’t provoke a strong enough response. Until now.

FDA clears Pharmacyclics drug for new cancer use

February 12, 2014 2:09 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a cancer drug from Pharmacyclics and Janssen Biotech Inc. for a new use against a rare blood and bone marrow disease. The agency said it approved Imbruvica for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who have already tried at least one other therapy.

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Panel votes down heart safety claim for naproxen

February 11, 2014 2:09 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A majority of federal health experts said Tuesday that new research is not strong enough to conclude that naproxen, the pain reliever in Aleve and many other medications, is safer on the heart than rival drugs used by millions of Americans to treat arthritis and everyday aches and pains. The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted against the conclusion that naproxen has a lower risk of heart attack than ibuprofen.

FDA reconsiders heart safety of common pain pills

February 10, 2014 1:08 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health experts are taking a second look this week at the heart safety of pain medications used by millions of Americans to treat arthritis and other everyday aches and pains. The Food and Drug Administration holds a two-day meeting beginning Monday to examine the latest research on anti-inflammatory medicines called NSAIDS, which serve as the backbone of U.S. pain treatment.

Method for delivering HIV-fighting antibodies proven promising

February 10, 2014 8:32 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

In 2011, biologists at Caltech demonstrated a highly effective method for delivering HIV-fighting antibodies to mice—a treatment that protected the mice from infection by a laboratory strain of HIV delivered intravenously. Now the researchers have shown that the same procedure is just as effective against a strain of HIV found in the real world, even when transmitted across mucosal surfaces.

Pharma data play larger role in Olympic drug tests

February 10, 2014 7:48 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

Some of the world's biggest drugmakers are playing a larger role in anti-doping efforts at this year's Winter Olympics: They're providing information on drugs that once would have been considered proprietary trade secrets. GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen and Roche are among the drugmakers that have begun sharing data about experimental drugs as part of an effort to stay one step ahead of drug cheats.

Advanced approach identifies new drug candidates from genome sequence

February 10, 2014 7:41 am | News | Comments

In research that could ultimately lead to many new medicines, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have developed a potentially general approach to design drugs from genome sequence. As a proof of principle, they identified a highly potent compound that causes cancer cells to attack themselves and die.

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Targeted Healing of the Immune System

February 9, 2014 10:00 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

In the U.S. about 12,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer a year. Out of these women, about 4,500 progress into invasive cervical cancer or the end stage of the disease. This leaves about 8,000 women a year in the U.S. that are cured through existing standard of care treatment: surgery or chemotherapy/radiation. However, chemotherapy/radiation have terrible side effects in some cases.

Automated Pre-formulation Viscosity Screening of Biological Products

February 6, 2014 1:38 pm | by Dr. Lisa Newey-Keane, Biopharmaceutical Portfolio Manager, Malvern Instruments | Articles | Comments

As interest and investment in biopharmaceuticals grows, the pressure to innovate and rapidly deliver new therapies increases. While many avenues may be pursued, the high cost of developing biological molecules increases the need to advance only those therapies with the greatest likelihood of becoming manufacturable, efficacious, safe and profitable products.

A Gravimetric Approach to Sample Preparation at Pfizer

February 6, 2014 1:20 pm | by Dr. Joanne Ratcliff, Laboratory Weighing, Mettler Toledo AG, Switzerland | Articles | Comments

Awareness of the benefits of gravimetric sample preparation has increased significantly over the past couple of years. Recognition of this state-of-the-art technology by industry organizations such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) has supported this trend. A recent revision to USP chapter 1251 “Weighing on an Analytical Balance” included a detailed description of the steps involved in gravimetric dosing for sample preparation.

NIH, drugmakers, foundations partner to find meds

February 4, 2014 1:09 pm | by Linda A. Johnson - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. National Institutes of Health and numerous biopharmaceutical companies and disease foundations have teamed up on an unusual project to find and bring new medicines to patients faster. The Accelerating Medicines Partnership, announced Tuesday, will focus on the early part of drug research.

Genetic function discovered that could offer new avenue to cancer therapies

February 4, 2014 9:13 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Oregon State Univ. have discovered a genetic function that helps one of the most important “tumor suppressor” genes to do its job and prevent cancer. Finding ways to maintain or increase the effectiveness of this gene—called Grp1-associated scaffold protein, or Grasp—could offer an important new avenue for human cancer therapies, scientists said.

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FDA reviews safety of testosterone therapy for men

January 31, 2014 7:08 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it is reviewing the safety of popular testosterone drugs for men in light of recent studies suggesting they can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and death. A study suggested testosterone therapy could double the risk of those problems in men older than 65. Another study published in November found that the hormone increased the risk by 30%.

Weapon fights drug-resistant tumors

January 31, 2014 9:16 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Cancer drugs that recruit antibodies from the body’s own immune system to help kill tumors have shown much promise in treating several types of cancer. However, after initial success, the tumors often return. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology reveals a way to combat these recurrent tumors with a drug that makes them more vulnerable to the antibody treatment.

Merck joins companies ending chimpanzee research

January 31, 2014 8:38 am | News | Comments

Drugmaker Merck & Co. is joining two dozen other pharmaceutical companies and contract laboratories in committing to not use chimpanzees for research. The growing trend could mean roughly 1,000 chimps in the U.S. used for research or warehoused for many years in laboratory cages could be "retired" to sanctuaries by around 2020.

Antibiotic “smart bomb” can target specific strains of bacteria

January 30, 2014 10:15 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a de facto antibiotic “smart bomb” that can identify specific strains of bacteria and sever their DNA, eliminating the infection. The technique offers a potential approach to treat infections by multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Findings point to potential treatment for virus causing childhood illnesses

January 30, 2014 7:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered a potential treatment for a viral infection that causes potentially fatal brain swelling and paralysis in children. The findings also point to possible treatments for related viruses including those that cause common cold symptoms. The virus, called enterovirus 71 (EV71), causes yearly outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease in Southeast Asian countries, including China and Malaysia.

Doctors: Too few cancer patients enroll in studies

January 28, 2014 5:08 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

One of every 10 clinical trials for adults with cancer ends prematurely because researchers can't get enough people to test new treatments, scientists report. The surprisingly high rate reveals not just the scope and cost of wasted opportunities that deprive patients of potential advances, but also the extent of barriers such as money, logistics and even the mistaken fear that people won't get the best care if they join these experiments.

Researchers discover potential drug targets for early onset glaucoma

January 24, 2014 8:18 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Using a novel high-throughput screening process, scientists have, for the first time, identified molecules with the potential to block the accumulation of a toxic eye protein that can lead to early onset of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and cause vision loss and blindness. Elevated eye pressure is the main risk factor for optic nerve damage.

All FDA drug approvals not created equal

January 22, 2014 8:21 am | by Karen N. Peart, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Many patients and physicians assume that the safety and effectiveness of newly approved drugs is well understood by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But a new study by researchers at Yale School of Medicine shows that the clinical trials used by the FDA to approve new drugs between 2005 and 2012 vary widely in their thoroughness.

Study hints at therapeutic uses of ecstasy

January 21, 2014 11:10 am | News | Comments

Brian imaging experiments have revealed for the first time how ecstasy produces feelings of euphoria in users. The findings hint at ways that ecstasy, or MDMA, might be useful in the treatment of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. MDMA has been a popular recreational drug since the 1980s, but there has been little research on which areas of the brain it affects.

Preventing cell death from infection

January 20, 2014 8:25 am | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have demonstrated the power of a new drug discovery technique, which allows them to find, relatively quickly and cheaply, antibodies that have a desired effect on cells. The TSRI scientists used the technique to discover two antibodies that protect human cells from a cold virus.

Clever chemistry and a new class of antibiotics

January 17, 2014 12:51 pm | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

As concerns about bacterial resistance to antibiotics grow, researchers are racing to find new kinds of drugs to replace ones that are no longer effective. One promising new class of molecules called acyldepsipeptides, ADEPs, kills bacteria in a way that no marketed antibacterial drug does. Now, researchers have shown that giving the ADEPs more backbone can dramatically increase their biological potency.

Erasing traumatic memories

January 17, 2014 7:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition marked by severe anxiety stemming from a traumatic event such as a battle or violent attack. Many patients undergo psychotherapy. However, Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists have now shown that they can extinguish well-established traumatic memories in mice by giving them a type of drug called an HDAC2 inhibitor.

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