Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

Last month there was talk of a 20 percent cut in funding for the National Institutes of Health, which is the primary source of academic life sciences grants. Prompted by science media concern, much of the public wondered about the potential impact on biomedical research. Pharmacologist David Kroll of Chemical & Engineering News expressed it well on Twitter:

"Combine the administration's harsh climate toward pharma profits with a proposed 20% NIH budget cut...where will new drugs come from?"

It’s a very common question. People who are not familiar with the drug discovery process often believe that government-funded research is the main driver of innovation. But this is false. Industry invents almost all drugs. When asked about what drugs are discovered in academia,...

While the price of EpiPens have increased dramatically to unaffordable levels for many, at least someone is working on behalf of aggrieved consumers to make the purchase of the potential life-saving drug more worthwhile.

That someone is a west coast pharmacist, one apparently sympathetic to those shouldering the high cost of the drug injectors by seeking to identify the drug's effective shelf life. And at at cost of roughly $600 per pair, knowing how long they will work can translate into real savings for families.

The pharmacist, F. Lee Cantrell, the director of the California Poison Control System in San Diego, determined that EpiPens are effective far longer – even four years or more – than the expiration date states on their labels. That, of course, is great...

Antibiotic resistance is an ongoing problem. Strike that - an ongoing crisis. Although the reasons are varied and many, we know that more usage results in more resistance.

There are massive efforts going on in medical centers all over the country to try to minimize the needless overprescription of antibiotics. We highlighted one of these efforts last year. But, are they working? 

Unfortunately, not well enough. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Canada finds that there are still many unnecessary antibiotics being prescribed. In fact, one in two...

When it comes to finding new antibiotics, no place is too weird to look.

Last week, we reported that two species of fungi, both isolated from an acidic, metal-rich lake, cooperate to synthesize an antibiotic that neither produces when grown alone. Now, three separate teams of researchers have identified potentially useful antibiotics from some of the strangest places imaginable: Sponges, sea snails, and marine worms. All reports were published in the Journal of Natural Products.

In the first study, a team of mostly Japanese scientists isolated a compound called Zamamidine D from a sponge named Amphimedon. The compound displayed...

To be able to clot our blood is an extraordinary capability. However, too much of a good thing poses its own risks. Reducing your chances of developing pathologic clots will be addressed here.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), blood clots adversely impact nearly 900,000 Americans and prompt roughly 100,000 premature deaths annually. Specifically, they recognize those presenting as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and/or pulmonary embolism (PE) among the most substantial threats to public health. (1)

Our innate coagulation (aka clotting) cascade is quite a dynamic, but formidable system. When optimally effective, it initiates and manages retention of a balanced condition...

For those of you who are following herpes vaccines in development, the news out of Australia isn't bad. Or especially good.

Admedus released results from its Phase IIa (1) clinical trials of it herpes simplex 2 vaccine, and even the company didn't seem all that enthusiastic. That's OK. Unlike some other companies, they are not hyping early results to try and get funding or media coverage. The endpoint of the trial was safety, which was achieved, but not much else. The company said "positive immune response to the vaccine was seen in most [of the 34] subjects." (2)

Also reported:

  • A positive immune response was seen in "most...

I must have been in a stupor yesterday, because how else could I have missed what seems to be a merger between US News & World Report and Andrew Weil, M.D, N.U.T?

It must be true because I can think of no other possible explanation for this:

 US News & World Report, May 2, 2017

"Here are five essential oils that, along with a healthy, nutrient-rich diet and daily physical activity, will give you that extra boost that you need to

I took out the spam link to the guy's site. How on Earth did this obvious (and obviously crazy) marketing article get into a well-known magazine?? Let's take a look at the...

Monday night, comedian and late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel told the terrifying tale of the discovery and treatment of his newborn son's unexpected congenital heart defect. He began by reassuring the audience of a happy ending but was visibly overwhelmed by recounting his and his family's experience since Billy's birth. To view his heartfelt, emotional account, see video here.

Guided by Kimmel's recounting, we can generate a timeline that underscores the importance of routine hospital care in the perinatal period and why he was right to thank the entire medical team on air. It is important to understand this is a period of dynamic, continuous change in the infant . The cardiopulmonary (aka heart and lung) ...

About two decades ago, "common wisdom" dictated that the way to control drug prices in the US was to import the same drugs from Canada for a fraction of the price. The only problem with this strategy was... everything (1):

1) Most of the time, it is illegal.

2) You never know what you're getting. For example, although Canadian pharmacies "require" a prescription, some of them employ a "rent-a doc," who will ask you a few questions online, and then OK the prescription.(See Figure 1)

3) Canada has one-tenth the population of the US. If we imported every single drug from the entire country, it would make little difference in drug prices here.

4) There are...

Microbiologists often study microbes in isolation. In the scientific vernacular, this is called "pure culture." While this is necessary to understand how individual microbes work, the trouble with this approach is that microbes do not live by themselves in the natural environment. Instead, they live in communities with multiple other species, cooperating and competing in order to survive.

As a result, microbes can behave very differently in the environment compared to the artificial solitude of the laboratory. This insight has helped spur the field of microbial ecology, which studies microbial interactions with each other and the environment. One technique to do is "co-culture." Instead of growing...