medication

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BTK inhibitor vs. respiratory distress

Off-label cancer drug shows promise against severe COVID-19

Early data from a clinical study suggest that blocking the Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) protein provided clinical benefit to a small group of patients with severe COVID-19. Researchers observed that the off-label use of the cancer drug acalabrutinib, a BTK inhibitor that is approved to treat several blood cancers, was associated with reduced respiratory distress and a reduction in the overactive…

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A 'safety net' for better drug delivery

Ultra-thin fibres to protect nerves after brain surgery

The drug nimodipine could prevent nerve cells from dying after brain surgery. Pharmacists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), in cooperation with neurosurgeons at University Hospital Halle (Saale) (UKH), have developed a new method that enables the drug to be administered directly in the brain with fewer side effects. Their findings were published in the European Journal of…

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Reducing side effects

Nanohybrid vehicles to deliver drugs into the human body

Researchers in The University of Texas at El Paso’s (UTEP) Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have developed a nanohybrid vehicle that can be used to optimally deliver drugs into the human body. The research was published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Leading the study are Mahesh Narayan, Ph.D., professor, and Sreeprasad Sreenivasan, Ph.D., assistant professor, both from the…

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Depression medication

New research may lead to more effective antidepressants

Depression is a common psychiatric disorder and one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Antidepressants are the first-line treatment for moderate to severe major depressive episodes. Despite their effectiveness, only 40% of patients respond to the first antidepressant they try. A recent paper in Nature Communication strongly suggests that a particular protein, GPR56, is involved in the…

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Existing solutions to a new problem

COVID-19 vaccine candidate could cover global demand

Any new coronavirus vaccine that works well and is safe will still have the daunting challenge of needing to be produced to scale in a very short amount of time. It will also have to be safely delivered into the hands of the most remote populations. The more complex and untested the vaccine approach, the more difficult it will be to both scale its production and deliver it around the world. By…

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Coronavirus treatment

Promising trial drug blocks early stages of COVID-19

An international team led by University of British Columbia (UBC) researcher Dr. Josef Penninger has found a trial drug that effectively blocks the cellular door SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect its hosts. The findings, published in Cell, hold promise as a treatment capable of stopping early infection of the novel coronavirus that, as of April 2, has affected more than 981,000 people and claimed the…

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COVID-19 medication safety

New traffic light system to prevent coronavirus drug interaction

The University of Liverpool launched a new website featuring a traffic light system to aid the safe prescribing of experimental drugs being trialled against coronavirus (COVID-19). The site, created by the University’s Liverpool Drug Interactions Group, provides vital information on whether or not combinations of an experimental drug and co-medications are safe to prescribe. This is of…

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Susceptibility to future drugs

Exploiting the carelessness of cancer cells

Could the ability of cancer cells to quickly alter their genome be used as a weapon against malignant tumours? Researchers at Uppsala University have succeeded in developing a substance that has demonstrated promising results in experiments on both animal models and human cancer cells. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Computer-aided search for substances

Virtual screening for anti-coronavirus drugs

The University of Basel is part of the global search for a drug to fight the rampant coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Researchers in the Computational Pharmacy group have so far virtually tested almost 700 million substances, targeting a specific site on the virus – with the aim of inhibiting its multiplication. Due to the current emergency, the first results of the tests will be made available to other…

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Pharma for the people

Is it time to nationalise the drug industry?

Critics of the pharmaceutical industry say it is misaligned with public interest. So is it time to nationalise the sector? Experts debate the issue in The BMJ today. Mariana Mazzucato and Henry Lishi Li at the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose believe the state should play a greater role in the sector. They acknowledge that the private sector is crucial to bringing cutting-edge…

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Pilot clinical trial

China to test targeted therapy for COVID-19

A University of British Columbia (UBC) researcher is part of an international team working with a biotechnology company on a pilot clinical trial of a potential new treatment for patients with severe coronavirus infections in China. Dr. Josef Penninger, director of UBC’s Life Sciences Institute and Canada 150 Chair in Functional Genetics, is working closely with Vienna-based Apeiron Biologics…

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Surprising side-effects

A new cancer drug (that fights obesity and diabetes, too)

Eric Prossnitz, PhD, from the University of New Mexico Health Services and his team hope to help 93 million obese Americans fight their fat. In a paper published in Science Translational Medicine, they reported that G-1, a cancer-fighting compound they discovered some years ago, reduces fat in obese mice. Although G-1 is currently in phase 1 clinical trials for cancer, Prossnitz and his team are…

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Outsmarting the immune system

'Super-human’ red blood cells for precise drug delivery

A team of physicists from McMaster University has developed a process to modify red blood cells so they can be used to distribute drugs throughout the body, which could specifically target infections or treat catastrophic diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s. The modified red blood cells are designed to circulate in the body for several weeks at a time, seeking out specific targets including…

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Ivermectin licensing in the UK

Why a much-needed scabies medicine is being kept back

A medicine that could control outbreaks of scabies in the UK is unlicensed and only available through specialist importers, researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) have found. In July 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its model list of essential medicines to include oral ivermectin for scabies-related infections. This recommendation follows the 2017 WHO…

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Reduced liver complications

The surprising benefits of anti-hepatitis medicine

A new effective treatment of hepatitis C that was made available to all Danes last year, not only combats the virus, but is also effective against potentially fatal complications such as reduced liver functioning and cirrhosis. This is the result of a new study from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital. Hepatitis C is a serious disease, but the biggest threat to someone’s health is…

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Blood thinning 2.0

Developing next generation anticoagulants

A University of Leeds spin-out company has secured £3.14m to develop a next generation drug that aims to prevent blood clots forming, without the risk of bleeding present in currently available drugs. Currently, anticoagulants have a relatively narrow margin between beneficial effects and undesirable bleeding, so new approaches are in demand. These could allow more patients that have a higher…

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FDA launches off-label drug database

Cure ID: App finds new ways of treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the global launch of Cure ID, an internet-based repository that will allow the clinical community to report their experiences treating difficult-to-treat infectious diseases with novel uses of existing FDA-approved drugs through a website, a smartphone or other mobile device. The platform enables the crowdsourcing of medical information from…

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Disarming MRSA

Potent antimicrobial to fight staph infections

Research led by scientists from McMaster University has yielded a potent antimicrobial that works against the toughest infectious disease strains. The find could be the beginning of developing new therapeutics to combat drug-resistant infections. The discovery is important as it is directly related to the development of Staphylococcus aureus diseases, known popularly as staph infections, which…

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Malignant infantile brain tumours

​Epilepsy drug inhibits brain tumour development

Medication prescribed for a certain type of epilepsy may offer a new method for treating malignant infantile brain tumours. A specific mTOR inhibitor has the ability to cross the blood–brain barrier to both reach and attack the tumour at source. This has been demonstrated by researchers from Uppsala University, in collaboration with US and UK colleagues, whose research has now been published in…

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Nanoswarm

Tiny transporters deliver treatment to stroke patients

Swarms of nanoparticles which are 15,000 times smaller than a pinhead may be able to deliver vital drugs to the brain, offering new hope to patients in the early stages of a stroke. The research, carried out at The University of Manchester, shows that tiny vesicles called liposomes, just 100 nanometres in diameter can translocate through the damaged blood brain barrier following stroke. And that…

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Inhalation visualised

New imaging tech gives insights into pulmonary drug delivery

Inhalation therapy is widely used for the treatment of lung diseases. Targeting of drugs to the site of disease is a major goal to improve drug efficacy and minimize side effects. Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich have now shown that combined insight from various imaging methods allows for real-time monitoring of the dynamic process of drug…

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Meta-analysis

Benefit and risk: drug-coated balloon angioplasty

Scientists of Jena University Hospital, Germany, conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate benefit and risk of paclitaxel-coated balloon angioplasty compared to conventional balloon angioplasty as therapy of intermittent claudication. The study confirms an increased all-cause mortality, which has formerly been stated, and found a broad heterogeneity in the effectivity of the procedure depending on…

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EMA recommandation for Ervebo

Ebola: first vaccine to protect against deadly virus

It is an important step towards fighting one of the deadliest viruses known to man: The human medicines committee (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation in the European Union for Ervebo (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP), the first vaccine for active immunisation of individuals aged 18 years and older at risk of infection with the Ebola virus.…

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