Archive for September 2014

Early Safety Tests on Lead Compounds

September 30, 2014

Lead Compounds pic Since the drug discovery process eventually results in tests on humans, safety plays a central role in all stages of research. Scientists generally begin by identifying a promising compound via bioengineering, high-throughput screening, nature, or de novo drug design. After finding a compound that acts on the target molecule, researchers perform preliminary safety tests to determine whether a compound may be suitable for consumption.

In general, early safety tests screen compounds for five pharmacokinetic pathways: absorption into the bloodstream, distribution to the appropriate site in the body, effective and efficient metabolism, successful excretion from the body, and demonstrated non-toxicity. If a compound fails in one or more of these categories, researchers can push it back in favor of compounds that pass all five tests. Researchers conduct early safety tests of compounds using computational models, living cells, and animals. Human testing does not occur until much later in the drug discovery process.

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Scientists Continue to Make Strides in Fighting Heart Disease

September 17, 2014

Heart Disease pic While numerous innovative biotech companies specialize in rare conditions and illnesses, many researchers in the United States have strived to maintain a focus on the biggest problems facing patients, including the country’s number-one killer: heart disease. Since the turn of the century, scientists and public health officials have succeeded in reducing the impact of these diseases. As compared to 1999, patients hospitalized in 2010 were 23 percent less likely to die within a year from an unstable angina or a heart attack, while one-year death rates from heart failure and stroke fell by 13 percent. Nevertheless, heart disease still kills some 600,000 Americans every year, and biotech experts have turned to new technologies to enable even better treatments.

One recent breakthrough in the fight against heart failure, a condition that results in the death of half of those afflicted within five years, involves myosin heavy-chain-associated RNA transcript, or Myheart, which regulates a protein responsible for heart development in fetuses. During heart failure, this protein, BRG1, begins altering genetic material in the heart and creates significant problems. With the application of Myheart in mice undergoing a cardiac episode, the RNA chain inhibits BRG1 activity and stops the progression of heart failure. While Myheart itself remains unusable in human subjects due to its size, researchers are now beginning to look for functional portions that may result in a powerful treatment that addresses heart failure at the genetic level.

Three Common Fibromyalgia Treatments

September 8, 2014

Fibromyalgia pic A disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain throughout the body, fibromyalgia is a complicated condition that researchers have yet to fully understand. Because there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, treatment focuses primarily on symptom management. Here are three common fibromyalgia treatments:

Pain relievers—Because fibromyalgia patients typically experience high levels of pain, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are commonly prescribed. Doctors may also recommend a prescription pain reliever such as tramadol. Narcotics like oxycodone are rarely used, as they can actually worsen pain over time and lead to dependence.

Antidepressants—In recent years, physicians have begun prescribing antidepressants like milnacipran and duloxetine to relieve much of the fatigue and pain caused by fibromyalgia. For individuals experiencing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, doctors may also prescribe a sedative, such as fluoxetine or amitriptyline.

Anti-seizure medication—Some fibromyalgia patients respond well to epilepsy drugs, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, which was the first fibromyalgia drug to earn apAnti-seizure medicationproval from the Food and Drug Administration.