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The Lead

A new way to prevent the spread of devastating diseases

September 19, 2014 8:01 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | Videos | Comments

For decades, researchers have tried to develop broadly effective vaccines to prevent the spread of illnesses such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. While limited progress has been made along these lines, there are still no licensed vaccinations available that can protect most people from these devastating diseases. So what are immunologists to do when vaccines just aren't working?

Chemists modify antibiotic to vanquish resistant bacteria

September 18, 2014 10:14 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have devised a new antibiotic based on vancomycin...

Taking a Big Bite Out of Malaria

September 15, 2014 9:49 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Malaria threatens more than 40% of the world’s population and kills up to 1.2 million people...

Gilead to license generic version of Sovaldi

September 15, 2014 9:37 am | by Tom Murphy - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Gilead Sciences has reached a deal with several generic drugmakers to produce a cheaper version...

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Study: Many hospitals use too many antibiotics

September 11, 2014 8:39 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Doctors in many U.S. hospitals are unnecessarily prescribing multiple antibiotics for several days when just one would do the job, a new study suggests. Health officials have sounded alarms that overuse of antibiotics is helping to breed dangerous bacteria that are increasingly resistant to treatment. Much of the attention has been on doctor offices that wrongly prescribe bacteria-targeting antibiotics for illnesses caused by viruses.

FDA OKs Merck drug, first in new cancer drug class

September 4, 2014 3:26 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

U.S. regulators have approved the first drug in a new class of cancer medicines that work by stimulating the immune system, a Merck drug developed for treating deadly skin cancer. The Food and Drug Administration says it has granted accelerated approval to Merck's Keytruda, for treating melanoma that's spread or can't be surgically removed, in patients previously treated with another drug.

Lilly says insulin fares well in late-stage tests

September 4, 2014 11:27 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Eli Lilly and Co. plans to seek approval early next year for a new insulin it developed after the diabetes treatment fared better than the competition in two late-stage clinical studies. The Indianapolis drugmaker said Thursday peglispro produced statistically significant lower blood sugar levels in patients when compared to people who took the Sanofi insulin Lantus in two late-stage studies of people with type 1 diabetes.

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Researcher’s nanoparticle key to new malaria vaccine

September 4, 2014 11:26 am | by Colin Poitras, UConn | News | Comments

A self-assembling nanoparticle designed by a Univ. of Connecticut (UConn) professor is the key component of a potent new malaria vaccine that is showing promise in early tests. For years, scientists trying to develop a malaria vaccine have been stymied by the malaria parasite’s ability to transform itself and “hide” in the liver and red blood cells of an infected person to avoid detection by the immune system.

Experimental Ebola drug heals all monkeys in study

August 29, 2014 1:28 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

An experimental Ebola drug healed all 18 monkeys infected with the deadly virus in a study, boosting hopes that the treatment might help fight the outbreak raging through West Africa. Scientists gave the drug, called ZMapp, three to five days after infecting the monkeys in the laboratory. Most were showing symptoms by then, and all completely recovered.

Sensory-tested drug delivery vehicle could limit spread of HIV, AIDS

August 28, 2014 12:33 pm | by Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

A unique method for delivering compounds that could positively impact the global battle against HIV and AIDS may be possible, thanks to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. A semi-soft vaginal suppository made from the seaweed-derived food ingredient carrageenan and loaded with the antiviral drug Tenofovir provides a woman-initiated, drug delivery vehicle that can protect against the spread of STIs.

Synthesis produces new antibiotic

August 28, 2014 10:10 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A fortuitous collaboration at Rice Univ. has led to the total synthesis of a recently discovered natural antibiotic. The laboratory recreation of a fungus-derived antibiotic, viridicatumtoxin B, may someday help bolster the fight against bacteria that evolve resistance to treatments in hospitals and clinics around the world.

U.S. to begin safety testing Ebola vaccine next week

August 28, 2014 9:25 am | by Seth Borenstein - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal researchers next week will start testing humans with an experimental vaccine to prevent the deadly Ebola virus. The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday that it is launching the safety trial on a vaccine developed by the agency's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline.

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Breakthrough antibacterial approach could resolve serious skin infections

August 26, 2014 4:30 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Like a protective tent over a colony of harmful bacteria, biofilms make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult. Microorganisms protected in a biofilm pose a significant health risk due to their antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment, and biofilm-protected bacteria account for 80% of total bacterial infections in humans and are 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than simpler bacterial infections.

Breakthrough understanding of biomolecules could lead to new, better drugs

August 25, 2014 9:09 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

There’s a certain type of biomolecule built like a nano-Christmas tree. Called a glycoconjugate, it’s many branches are bedecked with sugary ornaments. It’s those ornaments that get all the glory. That’s because, according to conventional wisdom, the glycoconjugate’s lowly “tree” basically holds the sugars in place as they do the important work of reacting with other molecules.

Roche to acquire InterMune for $8.3B

August 24, 2014 1:24 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche said Sunday it has reached an $8.3 billion deal to buy InterMune Inc., a California-based developer of treatments for lung diseases. The companies have reached an agreement under which Roche will acquire InterMune in an all-cash transaction, paying $74.00 per InterMune share, Roche said.

Vault nanoparticles show promise for cancer treatment, potential HIV cure

August 22, 2014 9:47 am | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A multidisciplinary team of scientists from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles and Stanford Univ. has used a naturally occurring nanoparticle called a vault to create a novel drug delivery system that could lead to advances in the treatment of cancer and HIV. Their findings could lead to cancer treatments that are more effective with smaller doses and to therapies that could potentially eradicate the HIV virus.

American Ebola doctor urges help fighting outbreak

August 22, 2014 4:25 am | by Kathleen Foody - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

As one of few Ebola survivors with medical expertise, Dr. Kent Brantly seems keenly aware of the position his painful experience has put him in. He hasn't spoken yet about his plans, but spent much of his first public appearance pleading for help for countries still struggling with the virus.

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TB Be Gone

August 21, 2014 4:27 pm | Award Winners

MDR-TB is a growing problem, estimated to kill 170,000 people annually and projected to infect more than two million people between 2011 and 2015. Janssen Research & Development LLC’s bedaquiline represents a significant scientific and public health advancement in the treatment of MDR-TB, as the first available medicine developed specifically for pulmonary MDR-TB treatment.

Study: Combining vaccines boosts polio immunity

August 21, 2014 3:25 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

New research suggests a one-two punch could help battle polio in some of the world's most remote and strife-torn regions: Giving a single vaccine shot to children who've already swallowed drops of an oral polio vaccine greatly boosted their immunity. The World Health Organization officials said the combination strategy already is starting to be used in mass vaccination campaigns in some hard-hit areas.

Lilly psoriasis drug fares well in late-stage test

August 21, 2014 9:20 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said its potential psoriasis treatment fared better than both a fake drug and a competitor's product during late-stage testing on patients with the most common form of the skin disease. The Indianapolis-based company announced initial results from the research on Thursday and said it plans to submit the drug, ixekizumab, to regulators in the first half of next year.

Treating pain by blocking the chili-pepper receptor

August 21, 2014 8:00 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As anyone who has bitten into a chili pepper knows, its burning spiciness—though irresistible to some—is intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper’s effect are using their findings to develop a new drug candidate for many kinds of pain, which can be caused by inflammation or other problems. They reported their progress on the compound, which is being tested in clinical trials, in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Drug for Ebola-like virus promising in ill monkeys

August 20, 2014 3:23 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Texas researchers are reporting that an experimental drug saved monkeys from a virus closely related to Ebola even after symptoms began. The drug targets a strain of Marburg virus that is even more lethal than the Ebola currently ravaging West Africa. Both viruses take time to multiply in the body before symptoms appear, and few studies have explored how late treatment might be effective.

Biomarker in aggressive breast cancer identified

August 20, 2014 7:53 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Two Northwestern Univ. scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with basal-like breast cancer, a highly aggressive carcinoma that is resistant to many types of chemotherapy. The biomarker, a protein called STAT3, provides a smart target for new therapeutics designed to treat this often deadly cancer.

AstraZeneca says DOJ closes probe into drug trial

August 19, 2014 1:23 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

British drugmaker AstraZeneca says the U.S. Dept. of Justice has closed its investigation into a clinical trial of the company's blood thinner Brilinta, and plans no further action. The company announced in October 2013 that federal officials were looking into the 18,000-patient study, which began in 2009.

Scientists racing to test Ebola vaccines in humans

August 14, 2014 6:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists are racing to begin the first human safety tests of two experimental Ebola vaccines, but it won't be easy to prove that the shots and other potential treatments in the pipeline really work. There are no proven drugs or vaccines for Ebola, a disease so rare that it's been hard to attract investments in countermeasures. But the current outbreak in West Africa is fueling new efforts to speed Ebola vaccine and drug development.

Non-invasive method controls size of molecules passing blood-brain barrier

August 14, 2014 4:38 pm | News | Comments

A new technique has demonstrated for the first time that the size of molecules penetrating the blood-brain barrier can be controlled using acoustic pressure. The innovative ultrasound approach uses acoustic pressure to let molecules through, and may help treatment for central nervous system diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Nanotech invention improves effectiveness of the “penicillin of cancer”

August 14, 2014 8:01 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

By combining magnetic nanoparticles with one of the most common and effective chemotherapy drugs, Argonne National Laboratory researchers have created a way to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly into the nucleus of cancer cells. They have created nano-sized bubbles, or “micelles,” that contain magnetic nanoparticles of iron oxide and cisplatin, a conventional chemotherapy drug also known as “the penicillin of cancer.”

Panel urges second pneumonia shot for older adults

August 13, 2014 5:20 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A federal panel says older Americans should start getting a new vaccine against bacteria that cause pneumonia. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday to recommend a dose of the expensive new shot for people 65 and older. The panel said older adults should still get an older pneumococcal vaccine, too.

An easier way to manipulate malaria genes

August 11, 2014 10:35 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, has proven notoriously resistant to scientists’ efforts to study its genetics. It can take up to a year to determine the function of a single gene, which has slowed efforts to develop new, more targeted drugs and vaccines. Biological engineers have now demonstrated a new genome-editing technique that can disrupt a single parasite gene in a matter of weeks.

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