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The Lead

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...

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...

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...

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

In search for Alzheimer’s drug, a major STEP forward

August 7, 2014 8:10 am | by Karen N. Peart, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered a new drug compound that reverses the brain deficits of Alzheimer’s disease in an animal model. The compound, TC-2153, inhibits the negative effects of a protein called STtriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP), which is key to regulating learning and memory. These cognitive functions are impaired in Alzheimer’s.

Ethical issue: Who gets experimental Ebola drug?

August 6, 2014 5:25 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The use of an experimental drug to treat two Americans diagnosed with Ebola is raising ethical questions about who gets first access to unproven new therapies for the deadly disease. But some health experts fear debate over extremely limited doses will distract from tried-and-true measures to curb the growing outbreak.

Model of viral lifecycle could help find cure for hepatitis B

August 5, 2014 4:36 pm | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

A new technique for studying the lifecycle of the hepatitis B virus could help researchers develop a cure for the disease. A recently published paper describes using microfabricated cell cultures to sustain hepatitis B virus in human liver cells, allowing them to study immune responses and drug treatments.

Advanced thin-film technique could deliver long-lasting medication

August 5, 2014 7:57 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

About one in four older adults suffers from chronic pain. Many of those people take medication, usually as pills. But this is not an ideal way of treating pain: Patients must take medicine frequently, and can suffer side effects, since the contents of pills spread through the bloodstream to the whole body. Now researchers have refined a technique that could enable pain medication to be released directly to specific parts of the body.

Help for halting autism symptoms

August 4, 2014 7:48 am | by Peter Reuell, Harvard Staff Writer | News | Comments

Harvard scientists have identified a method to help reduce autism symptoms in mice, a finding that could one day lead to new insight into how the disorder affects the brains of humans. In a study described in Neuron found that boosting inhibitory neurotransmission early in brain development could reverse deficits in sensory integration associated with autism-like symptoms.

Engineering a protein to prevent brain damage from toxic agents

July 31, 2014 8:28 am | News | Comments

Research at New York Univ. is paving the way for a breakthrough that may prevent brain damage in civilians and military troops exposed to poisonous chemicals—particularly those in pesticides and chemical weapons. An article in ChemBioChem outlines the advancement in detoxifying organophosphates, which are compounds commonly used in pesticides and warfare agents.

Dissolvable fabric loaded with medicine might offer protection against HIV

July 30, 2014 1:54 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Soon, protection from HIV infection could be as simple as inserting a medicated, disappearing fabric minutes before having sex. Univ. of Washington bioengineers have discovered a potentially faster way to deliver a topical drug that protects women from contracting HIV. Their method spins the drug into silk-like fibers that quickly dissolve when in contact with moisture, releasing high doses of the drug.

Forced mutations doom HIV

July 29, 2014 8:16 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Fifteen years ago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor John Essigmann and colleagues from the Univ. of Washington had a novel idea for an HIV drug. They thought if they could induce the virus to mutate uncontrollably, they could force it to weaken and eventually die out—a strategy that our immune system uses against many viruses.

$1,000 pill now hepatitis C treatment of choice

July 29, 2014 3:19 am | by Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A $1,000-per-pill drug that insurers are reluctant to pay for has quickly become the treatment of choice for a liver-wasting viral disease that affects more than three million Americans. In less than six months, prescriptions for Sovaldi have eclipsed all other hepatitis C pills combined, according to new data from IMS Health.

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