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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.

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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.

Merck blood thinner gets "yes" vote from FDA panel

January 15, 2014 5:10 pm | by MATTHEW PERRONE - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A panel of federal experts has recommended approval for an experimental blood thinner from Merck despite serious side effects including internal bleeding. The Food and Drug Administration's panel of cardiology experts voted 10-1 Wednesday in favor of approving the pill vorapaxar to help prevent blood clots in patients with a history of heart attacks.

Smart gels deliver medicine on demand

January 15, 2014 10:04 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Delaware have developed a “smart” hydrogel that can deliver medicine on demand, in response to mechanical force. Over the past few decades, smart hydrogels have been created that respond to pH, temperature, DNA, light and other stimuli.

Molecular nano-spies to make light work of disease detection

January 14, 2014 9:26 am | News | Comments

A world of cloak-and-dagger pharmaceuticals has come a step closer with the development of stealth compounds programmed to spring into action when they receive the signal. Researchers in the U.K. have designed and tested large molecular complexes that will reveal their true identity only when they’ve reached their intended target, like disguised saboteurs working deep behind enemy lines.

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Scientists develop promising drug candidates for pain, addiction

January 14, 2014 8:07 am | News | Comments

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have described a pair of drug candidates that advance the search for new treatments for pain, addiction and other disorders. The two new drug scaffolds offer researchers novel tools that act on a demonstrated therapeutic target, the kappa opioid receptor (KOR), which is located on nerve cells and plays a role in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Tricky protein may help HIV vaccine development

January 13, 2014 3:48 pm | News | Comments

Duke Univ. scientists have taken aim at what may be an Achilles' heel of the HIV virus. Combining expertise in biochemistry, immunology and advanced computation, researchers at Duke have determined the structure of a key part of the HIV envelope protein, the gp41 membrane proximal external region (MPER), which previously eluded detailed structural description.

On-demand vaccines possible with engineered nanoparticles

January 8, 2014 8:02 am | News | Comments

Vaccines combat diseases and protect populations from outbreaks, but the life-saving technology leaves room for improvement. Vaccines usually are made en masse in centralized locations far removed from where they will be used. They are expensive to ship and keep refrigerated and they tend to have short shelf lives. However, Univ. of Washington engineers have developed hope for on-demand vaccines.

Chinese herbal compound relieves inflammatory, neuropathic pain

January 2, 2014 1:52 pm | News | Comments

A compound derived from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine has been found effective at alleviating pain, pointing the way to a new non-addictive analgesic for acute inflammatory and nerve pain, according to Univ. of California Irvine (UC Irvine) pharmacology researchers. Working with Chinese scientists, the UC Irvine team isolated a compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) from the roots of the Corydalis yanhusuo plant.

Vitamin E may slow Alzheimer's disease progression

December 31, 2013 4:33 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Researchers say vitamin E might slow the progression of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease—the first time any treatment has been shown to alter the course of dementia at that stage. In a study of more than 600 older veterans, high doses of the vitamin delayed the decline in daily living skills, such as making meals, getting dressed and holding a conversation, by about six months over a two-year period.

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Drug blocks HIV in lab study, human tests planned

December 20, 2013 12:59 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Can an experimental drug developed to treat epilepsy block the AIDS virus? A preliminary lab study suggests it's possible, and researchers are eager to try it in people. When tested in human tissues in the laboratory, the drug "works beautifully" to prevent HIV from destroying key cells of the immune system.

New anti-HIV drug target identified

December 18, 2013 4:16 pm | News | Comments

Univ. of Minnesota researchers have discovered a first-of-its-kind series of compounds possessing anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) activity. The compounds present a new target for potential HIV drug development and future treatment options. The compounds were found to stop the replication and spread of HIV by blocking HIV DNA synthesis.

Single bacterial super-clone behind epidemic of drug-resistant E. coli

December 18, 2013 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Virulent, drug-resistant forms of E. coli that have recently spread around the world emerged from a single strain of the bacteria. The strain causes millions of urinary, kidney and bloodstream infections a year. It could have a far greater clinical and economic impact than any other strain of bacteria, including the so-called MRSA superbug.

Researchers develop advanced 3-D “force microscope”

December 17, 2013 3:19 pm | News | Comments

Until recently, the microscopic study of complex membrane proteins has been restricted due to limitations of “force microscopes” that are available to researchers and the one-dimensional results these microscopes reveal. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have built a 3-D microscope that will yield unparalleled information on membrane proteins and how they interact in cells. The innovation could speed up drug development.

New drug, study method show breast cancer promise

December 13, 2013 12:22 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A novel and faster way to test cancer drugs has yielded its first big result: An experimental medicine that shows promise against a hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. The method involves studying drugs in small groups of people to quickly separate winners from duds. Bringing a new cancer drug to market usually takes more than a decade and tests in thousands of patients, and costs more than $1 billion.

U.K. says cure or drug for dementia possible by 2025

December 11, 2013 11:37 am | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he hopes to kick-start an international effort to find a cure or effective treatment for dementia by 2025. At a one-day summit on dementia hosted by the U.K., Cameron declared that discovering a cure or treatment for dementia is "within our grasp." The Group of Eight health and science ministers signed a declaration agreeing to identify "a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia" by 2025.

A Distant Hope

December 10, 2013 3:00 pm | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

In early March, in a rural Mississippi hospital, an infant was born to an HIV-infected mother. The chances of an infant contracting HIV from an infected mother not receiving antiretroviral treatment is around 25% in the U.S., and this child was on the wrong end of that statistic. Dr. Deborah Persaud, a Johns Hopkins Children’s Center HIV expert, knew that meant this baby would only have a 50% chance of living past the age of nine years.

Innovative contact lens delivers glaucoma medication continuously

December 9, 2013 10:10 am | News | Comments

For nearly 50 years, contact lenses have been proposed as a means of ocular drug delivery that may someday replace eye drops, but achieving controlled drug release has been a significant challenge. Researchers in Massachusetts have made an advance in this direction with the development of a drug-eluting contact lens designed for prolonged delivery glaucoma medication.

Recycled plastic effective in killing drug-resistant fungi

December 9, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Singapore and at IBM Research in California have discovered a new, potentially life-saving application for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is widely used to make plastic bottles. They have successfully converted PET into a non-toxic biocompatible material with superior fungal killing properties. This could help prevent and treat various fungus-induced diseases such as keratitis.

“Smuggling” drugs at the cellular level

December 9, 2013 9:28 am | by Britt Faulstick, Drexel Univ. | News | Comments

Medicated adhesive patches have become a preferred method of delivery for everything from nicotine to hormones to motion sickness medication. Drexel Univ. researchers are trying to expand the possibilities of this system, which is called transdermal delivery, with the help of a cleverly designed delivery vehicle and an ultrasonic "push," or pressure from sound waves.

Industry Breakout - Life Sciences

December 9, 2013 6:10 am | by R&D Magazine/Battelle | Articles | Comments

As represented in this Forecast, the life science industry includes biopharmaceuticals, medical instruments and devices, animal/agricultural bioscience and commercial research and testing. However, the industry’s R&D spending is driven primarily by the mass and research intensity of the biopharmaceutical sector, which accounts for nearly 85% of all expenditures.

Gene therapy scores big wins against blood cancers

December 7, 2013 11:02 am | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

In one of the biggest advances against leukemia and other blood cancers in many years, doctors are reporting unprecedented success by using gene therapy to transform patients' blood cells into soldiers that seek and destroy cancer. A few patients with one type of leukemia were given this one-time, experimental therapy several years ago and some remain cancer-free today.

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