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Method sneaks drugs into cancer cells before triggering release

May 9, 2014 10:11 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed an anti-cancer drug delivery method that essentially smuggles the drug into a cancer cell before triggering its release. The method can be likened to keeping a cancer-killing bomb and its detonator separate until they are inside a cancer cell, where they then combine to destroy the cell.

Chemotherapy timing is key to success

May 8, 2014 4:00 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have devised a novel cancer treatment that destroys tumor cells by first disarming their defenses, then hitting them with a lethal dose of DNA damage. In studies with mice, the research team showed that this one-two punch, which relies on a nanoparticle that carries two drugs and releases them at different times, dramatically shrinks lung and breast tumors.

Experimental antibody shows early promise for treatment of childhood tumor

May 8, 2014 11:14 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

 Tumors shrank or disappeared and disease progression was temporarily halted in 15 children with advanced neuroblastoma enrolled in a safety study of an experimental antibody produced at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Four patients are still alive after more than two-and-a-half years and without additional treatment.

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Health insurers just say no to marijuana coverage

May 8, 2014 10:27 am | by Tom Murphy - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Patients who use medical marijuana for pain and other chronic symptoms can take an unwanted hit: Insurers don't cover the treatment, which costs as much as $1,000 a month. Once the drug of choice for hippies and rebellious teens, marijuana in recent years has gained more mainstream acceptance for its ability to boost appetite, dull pain and reduce seizures in everyone from epilepsy to cancer patients.

Soy sauce molecule may unlock drug therapy for HIV patients

May 6, 2014 7:49 am | News | Comments

For HIV patients being treated with anti-AIDS medications, resistance to drug therapy regimens is commonplace. Often, patients develop resistance to first-line drug therapies, such as Tenofovir, and are forced to adopt more potent medications. Virologists at the Univ. of Missouri now are testing the next generation of medications that stop HIV from spreading, and are using a molecule related to flavor enhancers found in soy sauce.

Two-lock box delivers cancer therapy

May 6, 2014 7:37 am | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have designed a tunable virus that works like a safe deposit box. It takes two keys to open it and release its therapeutic cargo. The Rice team developed an adeno-associated virus (AAV) that unlocks only in the presence of two selected proteases, enzymes that cut up other proteins for disposal. Because certain proteases are elevated at tumor sites, the viruses can be designed to target and destroy the cancer cells.

Experimental drug prolongs life span in mice

May 2, 2014 11:30 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Northwestern Medicine scientists have newly identified a protein’s key role in cell and physiological aging and have developed—in collaboration with Tohoku Univ. in Japan—an experimental drug that inhibits the protein’s effect and prolonged the lifespan in a mouse model of accelerated aging. The rapidly aging mice fed the experimental drug lived more than four times longer than a control group.

Scientists figure out staying power of HIV-fighting enzyme

May 2, 2014 11:24 am | News | Comments

Johns Hopkins Univ. biochemists have figured out what is needed to activate and sustain the virus-fighting activity of an enzyme found in CD4+ T cells, the human immune cells infected by HIV. The discovery could launch a more effective strategy for preventing the spread of HIV in the body with drugs targeting this enzyme, they say.

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Scientists urge delay in destroying last smallpox

May 1, 2014 5:24 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

More than three decades after the eradication of smallpox, U.S. officials say it's still not time to destroy the last known stockpiles of the virus behind one of history's deadliest diseases. The world's health ministers meet later this month to debate, again, the fate of vials held under tight security in two laboratories—one in the U.S. and one in Russia.

Promising agents burst through “superbug” defenses to fight antibiotic resistance

May 1, 2014 10:57 am | News | Comments

In the fight against “superbugs,” scientists have discovered a class of agents that can make some of the most notorious strains vulnerable to the same antibiotics that they once handily shrugged off. The report on the promising agents called metallopolymers appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

FDA weighs over-the-counter approval of Singulair

April 30, 2014 11:23 am | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health regulators are weighing the risks of permitting Merck to sell its prescription respiratory pill, Singulair, as an over-the-counter medicine for allergies. In a review posted online Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration raised concerns that the drug could be used inappropriately by children or by patients with more serious conditions, like asthma.

From morphine to Cipro: History of drug development chronicled

April 30, 2014 9:12 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ.’s Michael Kinch spent his spare time in the last year creating a massive database that encompasses the entire history of drug development in the U.S. In a series of 20 articles scheduled to be published over the next year in Drug Discovery Today, Kinch mines the data and provides historical tidbits about the history of drug development and reveals trends on how—or whether—we will get new medicines in the future.

U-M startup signs license agreement with drug company

April 25, 2014 7:53 am | by Greta Guest, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

A Univ. of Michigan (U-M) startup developing drugs to target gene fusions that drive many common cancers such as breast, colon, prostate and lung has signed a research and license agreement with a California biopharmaceutical company. OncoFusion Therapeutics Inc., an oncology discovery and development company, was co-founded in 2012 by U-M profs. Arul Chinnaiyan and Shaomeng Wang based on discoveries from their campus laboratories.

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Study: Statins may lead some patients to pig out

April 24, 2014 9:22 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Ten years of U.S. data suggest cholesterol-lowering statins are giving patients a license to pig out. Calorie and fat intake increased among statin users during the decade—an indication that many patients might be abandoning heart-healthy lifestyles and assuming that drugs alone will do the trick, the study authors said.

Multi-target TB drug could treat other disease, evade resistance

April 18, 2014 7:47 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

A drug under clinical trials to treat tuberculosis could be the basis for a class of broad-spectrum drugs that act against various bacteria, fungal infections and parasites, yet evade resistance, according to a study by Univ. of Illinois chemists and collaborators. The team determined the different ways the drug SQ109 attacks the tuberculosis bacterium and how the drug can be tweaked to target other pathogens from yeast to malaria.

Researchers develop new antiviral drug to combat measles outbreaks

April 17, 2014 7:57 am | News | Comments

A novel antiviral drug may protect people infected with the measles from getting sick and prevent them from spreading the virus to others, an international team of researchers says. The team of researchers developed the drug and tested it in animals infected with a virus closely related to one that causes the measles. As reported, virus levels were significantly reduced when infected animals received the drug by mouth.

Potent, puzzling and (now less) toxic: Team discovers how antifungal drug works

April 15, 2014 5:18 pm | by Diana Yates, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

Scientists have solved a decades-old medical mystery, and in the process have found a potentially less toxic way to fight invasive fungal infections, which kill about 1.5 million people a year. The researchers say they now understand the mechanism of action of amphotericin, an antifungal drug that has been in use for more than 50 years even though it is nearly as toxic to human cells as it is to the microbes it attacks.

Characterizing Liposomes for Drug Delivery

April 15, 2014 9:38 am | by Pauline Carnell, Senior Application Scientist and Mike Kaszuba, Technical Support Manager, Malvern Instruments, Malvern, U.K | Articles | Comments

When considering potential drug delivery vehicles, liposomes are an important option and have already been approved for use with a number of therapeutic formulations. Liposomes are comprised of phospholipids and may be single- or multi-layered, can be produced in different sizes and have a hydrophilic interior and hydrophobic shell. They are biodegradable, non-toxic and capable of encapsulating both hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials.

Nano shake-up: Nanocarriers fluctuate in size and shape

April 15, 2014 9:26 am | by Diane Kukich, Univ. of Delaware | News | Comments

Nanotechnology has unlocked new pathways for targeted drug delivery, including the use of nanocarriers that can transport cargoes of small-molecule therapeutics to specific locations in the body. Researchers have recently demonstrated that processing can have significant influence on the size of nanocarriers for targeted drug delivery. It was previously assumed that once a nanocarrier is created, it maintains its size and shape anywhere.

Targeting cancer with a triple threat

April 15, 2014 7:38 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Delivering chemotherapy drugs in nanoparticle form could help reduce side effects by targeting the drugs directly to the tumors. In recent years, scientists have developed nanoparticles that deliver one or two chemotherapy drugs, but it has been difficult to design particles that can carry any more than that in a precise ratio. Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have devised a new way to build such nanoparticles.

Enzyme “wrench” could be key to stronger, more effective antibiotics

April 11, 2014 10:10 am | by Tracey Peake, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Builders and factory workers know that getting a job done right requires precision and specialized tools. The same is true when you’re building antibiotic compounds at the molecular level. New findings from North Carolina State Univ. may turn an enzyme that acts as a specialized “wrench” in antibiotic assembly into a set of wrenches that will allow for greater customization.

Discovery could lead to treatments for cancer, common cold

April 2, 2014 12:20 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have published the first study explaining in detail how viruses reprogram the metabolism of the cells they invade to promote continued viral growth within an organism.                     

Good vibrations: Using light-heated water to deliver drugs

April 2, 2014 5:55 am | News | Comments

Pharmaceutical researchers in California, in collaboration with materials scientists, engineers and neurobiologists, have discovered a new mechanism for using near-infrared light to activate polymeric drug-delivering nanoparticles and other targeted therapeutic substances inside the body. This discovery represents a major innovation; up to now only a handful of strategies using light-triggered release from nanoparticles have been reported.

Effectiveness prompts Novartis to end drug study

March 31, 2014 10:23 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Novartis said it's cutting off late-stage research into a potential chronic heart failure treatment because the drug has proven so effective, sending shares to an all-time high when markets opened Monday. Patients taking its twice-daily pill labeled LCZ696 lived longer without being hospitalized for heart failure than those who received a standard of care, Novartis said.

Desktop human “body” could reduce need for animal drug tests

March 26, 2014 1:13 pm | News | Comments

Call it “homo minutus”. A team at Los Alamos National Laboratory is developing four human organ constructs (liver, heart, lung and kidney) that will work together to serve as a drug and toxicity analysis system that can mimic the actual response of human organs. Called ATHENA, for Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer, the system will fit neatly on a desk.

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