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New monkey model for AIDS offers promise for medical research

June 19, 2014 4:38 pm | by Zach Veilleux, The Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

HIV-1, the virus responsible for most cases of AIDS, is a very selective virus. It doesn’t readily infect species other than its usual hosts. While this would qualify as good news for most mammals, for humans this fact has made the search for effective treatments and vaccines for AIDS that much more difficult; without an accurate animal model of the disease, researchers have had few options for clinical studies of the virus.

Bioengineers invent way to speed up drug discovery

June 19, 2014 4:20 pm | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

Think of the human body as an intricate machine whose working parts are proteins: molecules that change shape to enable our organs and tissues to perform tasks such as breathing, eating or thinking. Of the millions of proteins, 500 in the kinase family are particularly important to drug discovery. Kinases are messengers: They deliver signals that regulate and orchestrate the actions of other proteins.

Researchers develop genetic control mechanism for major livestock pest

June 19, 2014 1:04 pm | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a technique to control populations of the Australian sheep blowfly—a major livestock pest in Australia and New Zealand—by making female flies dependent upon a common antibiotic to survive.

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Nature’s chem lab: How microorganisms manufacture drugs

June 19, 2014 8:25 am | by Jim Erickson, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have obtained the first 3-D snapshots of the "assembly line" within microorganisms that naturally produces antibiotics and other drugs. Understanding the complete structure and movement within the molecular factory gives investigators a solid blueprint for redesigning the microbial assembly line to produce novel drugs of high medicinal value.

Feds seek ways to expand use of addiction drug

June 18, 2014 2:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The government's top drug abuse experts are struggling to find ways to expand use of a medicine widely considered the best therapy for treating heroin and painkiller addiction, but which remains underused. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan on Wednesday pressed government officials and agencies to increase access to the buprenorphine, a drug which helps addicts control drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

With the right rehabilitation, paralyzed rats learn to grip again

June 16, 2014 2:58 pm | News | Comments

After a large stroke, motor skills barely improve, even with rehabilitation. An experiment conducted on rats demonstrates that a course of therapy combining the stimulation of nerve fiber growth with drugs and motor training can be successful. The key, however, is the correct sequence: Paralyzed animals only make an almost complete recovery if the training is delayed until after the growth promoting drugs have been administered.

Scientists’ discoveries could help neutralize chemical weapons

June 16, 2014 2:32 pm | by Amy Blakely, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Tennessee (UT) are a step closer to creating a prophylactic drug that would neutralize the deadly effects of the chemical weapons used in Syria and elsewhere. Jeremy Smith, UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair and an expert in computational biology, is part of the team that is trying to engineer enzymes—called bioscavengers—so they work more efficiently against chemical weapons.

New study aims to rapidly test lung cancer drugs

June 16, 2014 2:16 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A bold new way to test cancer drugs started Monday. Like a medical version of speed dating, doctors will sort through multiple experimental drugs and match patients to the one most likely to succeed based on each person's unique tumor gene profile. Five drug companies, the government, private foundations and advocacy groups are taking part.

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Findings point toward first therapy for Lou Gehrig’s disease

June 13, 2014 7:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers have determined that a copper compound known for decades may form the basis for a therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. In a new study, scientists showed in laboratory animal tests that oral intake of this compound significantly extended the lifespan and improved the locomotor function of transgenic mice that are genetically engineered to develop this debilitating and terminal disease.

A key step toward a safer strep vaccine

June 12, 2014 8:17 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have identified the genes encoding a molecule that famously defines Group A Streptococcus (strep), a pathogenic bacterial species responsible for more than 700 million infections worldwide each year.

Research develops “onion” vesicles for drug delivery

June 10, 2014 11:22 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

One of the defining features of cells is their membranes. Each cell’s repository of DNA and protein-making machinery must be kept stable and secure from invaders and toxins. Scientists have attempted to replicate these properties, but, despite decades of research, even the most basic membrane structures, known as vesicles, still face many problems when made in the laboratory.

Protein could put antibiotic-resistant bugs in handcuffs

June 10, 2014 7:38 am | News | Comments

Staph infections that become resistant to multiple antibiotics don't happen because the bacteria themselves adapt to the drugs, but because of a kind of genetic parasite they carry called a plasmid that helps its host survive the antibiotics. Plasmids are rings of bare DNA containing a handful of genes that are essentially freeloaders, borrowing most of what they need to live from their bacterial host.

Merck to acquire hepatitis C drug developer

June 9, 2014 9:19 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Merck will spend nearly $4 billion for Idenix Pharmaceuticals with a per-share bid that more than triples the hepatitis C drug developer's latest closing price. Pharmaceutical companies are racing to test new and potentially lucrative treatments for hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that causes liver damage and is expected to become more common as the U.S. population ages.

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One and done: Antibiotic could provide single-dose option

June 5, 2014 8:20 am | by Duke Medicine News and Communications | News | Comments

In the battle against stubborn skin infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a new single-dose antibiotic is as effective as a twice-daily infusion given for up to 10 days, according to a large study led by Duke Medicine researchers. Researchers said the advantage of the new drug, oritavancin, is its potential to curtail what has been a key driver of antibiotic resistance.

“Quadrapeutics” works in preclinical study of hard-to-treat tumors

June 2, 2014 7:52 am | Videos | Comments

The first preclinical study of a new Rice Univ.-developed anticancer technology found that a novel combination of existing clinical treatments can instantaneously detect and kill only cancer cells without harming surrounding normal organs. The research reports that Rice’s “quadrapeutics” technology was 17 times more efficient than conventional chemoradiation therapy against aggressive, drug-resistant head and neck tumors.

“Nanodaisies” deliver drug cocktail to cancer cells

May 28, 2014 8:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed daisy-shaped, nanoscale structures that are made predominantly of anticancer drugs and are capable of introducing a “cocktail” of multiple drugs into cancer cells. The researchers are all part the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

How the anticancer drug Taxol works

May 23, 2014 8:08 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A pathway to the design of even more effective versions of the powerful anticancer drug Taxol has been opened with the most detailed look ever at the assembly and disassembly of microtubules, tiny fibers of tubulin protein that form the cytoskeletons of living cells and play a crucial role in mitosis.

Chemists discover structure of cancer drug candidate

May 20, 2014 7:43 am | News | Comments

Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute have determined the correct structure of a highly promising anticancer compound approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials in cancer patients. The new report, published in Angewandte Chemie, focuses on a compound called TIC10.

Going beyond the surface

May 16, 2014 8:00 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. of Buffalo | News | Comments

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an effective treatment for easily accessible tumors such as oral and skin cancer. But the procedure, which uses lasers to activate special drugs called photosensitizing agents, isn’t adept at fighting cancer deep inside the body. That could change because of a new technology that could bring PDT into areas of the body which were previously inaccessible.

System prints precise drug dosages tailored for patients

May 15, 2014 11:36 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have created a prototype system that uses a mathematical model to predict—and a portable inkjet technology to produce—precise medication dosages tailored for specific patients, an advance in personalized medicine that could improve drug effectiveness and reduce adverse reactions.

Extended-release medication offers promise for treating alcohol dependence

May 15, 2014 8:14 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

A comparatively new form of a medication for alcohol and opioid dependence that’s injected once a month instead of taken orally once a day appears to be significantly more effective than some other medications—because more patients actually continue the prescribed regimen. The findings offer support for a wider use of medications that may help reduce or prevent substance abuse and related hospital admissions.

Enzyme unveils its secrets

May 14, 2014 10:25 am | by Kim DeRose, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

In pharmaceutical production, identifying enzyme catalysts that help improve the speed and efficiency of the process can be a major boon. Figuring out exactly why a particular enzyme works so well is an altogether different quest. Take the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin.

3-D map of enzyme could lead to more effective drugs

May 14, 2014 10:03 am | by Nathan Hurst, Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

The human body is full of proteins called enzymes that help nearly every function in the body. Scientists have been studying enzymes for decades in order to learn how they work and how to create better drugs and medical treatments for many ailments. Now, Univ. of Missouri researchers have completed a 3-D map of an enzyme called Proline utilization A (PutA).

Chemists design molecules for controlling bacterial behavior

May 14, 2014 8:29 am | by Rob Enslin, Syracuse Univ. | News | Comments

Chemists in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse Univ. have figured out how to control multiple bacterial behaviors—potentially good news for the treatment of infectious diseases and other bacteria-associated issues, without causing drug resistance.

Agilent collaborates with Seoul National Univ. on new research center

May 13, 2014 7:39 am | News | Comments

Agilent Technologies Inc. has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Seoul National Univ., Korea's top research university, on a new research center that will support the College of Pharmacy's New Drug Development Center. The collaboration will conduct drug metabolism studies, develop new compounds, study remedial effects and toxicity, assess pharmacokinetics, and conduct clinical tests for drugs.

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