Archive by date | December 2011

Doubts about usefulness of gene testing for antiplatelet drug prompt video rebuttal

Doubts about usefulness of gene testing for antiplatelet drug prompt video rebuttal

A textbook example of pharmacogenomics is the testing of the CYP2C19 liver enzyme gene to predict how well people will metabolize the antiplatelet drug Plavix (clopidogrel). Many cardiologists have such confidence in the link that they preemptively genotype people before administering the drug. Last year, US regulators even added a ‘black box’ warning to clopidogrel’s prescribing information noting the the link between certain genotypes and reduced drug efficacy. But a new meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week reports that such preemptive moves might be premature.  Read more

American scientist arrested in stem-cell clinic sting

American scientist arrested in stem-cell clinic sting

Cross-posted from the Nature News Blog An American university scientist was arrested on 27 December, accused of supplying stem cells for use in unapproved therapies. The US Department of Justice says Vincent Dammai, a researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, supplied the stem cells without the approval of his university or of the US Food and Drug Administration. Two other men, Francisco Morales of Brownsville, Texas, and Alberto Ramon, of Del Rio, Texas, were also arrested this week as part of the case. A fourth man, Lawrence Stowe of Dallas, Texas, has been charged and  … Read more

Causes are hard. Explaining pharma’s problems is harder

Causes are hard. Explaining pharma’s problems is harder

We all know the pharmaceutical industry is in trouble — what, with the precipitous patent cliff, soaring price of drug development and the death of the megablockbuster. And much ink has been spilled about the potential solutions to pharma’s problems, from mergers to academic partnerships to new research units. But what if the entire R&D enterprise is fundamentally flawed?  Read more

HPV vaccination for boys called into question

Texas Governor Rick Perry has taken a lot of flak for mandating that adolescent girls in the Lone Star State should be vaccinated against the human pappilomavirus (HPV). But Perry’s policy might have a strong scientific grounding. According to a report published today in PLoS Medicine, blanket vaccinating young girls might be the most effective way of curbing the cancer-causing virus.  Read more

Our Spoonful gets a more polished look

Our Spoonful gets a more polished look

You probably notice today that the Spoonful of Medicine blog has had some “work done”. But unlike many celebrities of our day, we’re not ashamed to dish on the details of our cosmetic surgery. Thanks to the hard work of our web developers, the blog should be easier to read and navigate. The revamp has also made our blog archive more readily available, so if you’re feeling nostalgic, click on the right to rekindle memories of days when Bush’s stem cell ban reigned supreme (which you’re likely not) or the retreat of swine flu. There’s a spiffy new commenting tool as well, so let us know what you think.  Read more

Researchers find a new way to take the Myc-key out of cancer

Myc mac, cancer whack. Researchers have discovered a new way to defeat one of the most sinister genes in cancer biology.  Reporting today in Science, a US team showed that hitting one of the molecular helpers of the Myc oncogene, rather than going directly after the elusive cancer target itself, offers a promising new therapeutic strategy for stopping aggressive tumors.  Read more

NEWS FEATURE: Breaking the silence

NEWS FEATURE: Breaking the silence

Scientists had long assumed that any genetic mutation that does not alter a protein sequence should have no impact on human health. But recent research has shown that such synonymous DNA changes can trigger disease in a number of ways. Alla Katsnelson talks to scientists and biotech companies who are speaking up about ‘silent’ mutations.  Read more

Q&A: A healthy chat with the Center for Global Development’s health policy leader

Q&A: A healthy chat with the Center for Global Development's health policy leader

Since its launch in 2001, the Center for Global Development (CGD) has been instrumental in convening working groups and issuing reports that shape the agenda for a range of topics that affect global poverty and people of the developing world. At the helm of its global health effort is Amanda Glassman. As the daughter of US Foreign Service diplomats, Glassman was exposed to disparities in public health in developing countries from a very young age. So it was a no-brainer for Glassman that she would devote her career to tackling those inequalities. She has spent the last two decades at places like the US Agency for International Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Brookings Institution. Last year, she joined CGD as the director of its global health policy division.  Read more

Four-in-one HIV pill may be exception among combination drugs

Four-in-one HIV pill may be exception among combination drugs

By Hannah Waters The 1960s cartoon The Jetsons envisioned a future where single pills provided the same nutrition, taste and satiation as food that required chewing. That time-saving tablet remains a pipe dream, but the drugmaker Gilead is trying to deliver a similarly inspired pill for HIV medicines. On 27 October, the California company submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its four-in-one HIV pill, which, if approved, would contain more medicines than any pill currently on the US market. The so-called ‘Quad’ pill promises the same virus-controlling ability as the four drugs separately but  … Read more