Antimalarial armament remains strong, despite lingering concerns over drug resistance

Antimalarial armament remains strong, despite lingering concerns over drug resistance

Earlier this month, Indian regulatory authorities granted conditional approval to the country’s first homegrown drug, a malaria-fighting pill that combines a new synthetic form of artemisinin with an older antimalarial compound called piperaquine. If the decision is ratified by the country’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, the new drug — developed from start to finish by the New Delhi-based pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy Laboratories — will add to doctors’ armament of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), the World Health Organization’s medicine of choice for tackling the parasite. Yet with so many options, the question is: which ACT is actually best at treating the infectious disease?  Read more

EDITORIAL: Risk-takers wanted

Treating costly conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease may soon collapse healthcare systems around the world, yet companies hesitate to invest in the long, large clinical trials required to discover disease-modifying therapies. New incentives are necessary to turn this tide.  Read more

New mouse models of autism highlight need for standardized tests

New mouse models of autism highlight need for standardized tests

By Sarah C P Williams Most laboratory mice, when meeting new cagemates, will sniff the strangers thoroughly. But the mice in Matthew Anderson’s lab instead sit alone, licking their paws repetitively. They ignore other mice, avoid new toys and rarely make noise. Taken together, the abnormalities closely resemble the behavioral symptoms seen in people with autism, a disorder that has been proven difficult to accurately recapitulate in animal models—until recently. “When I first started working on this, I really wondered whether we’d be able to study autism in a mouse,” says Anderson, a neuroscientist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical  … Read more

NEWS FEATURE: Autism, authenticated

NEWS FEATURE: Autism, authenticated

This past spring, Christian Schaaf sat back and watched seven-year-old Lily play in his office at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She looked just like any other girl her age, he recalls, but she didn’t seek interaction or even eye contact in the way a child normally would. Instead, she communed with a corner of the room, excitably hopping and flapping her arms as if that spot held a treat too great to bear. Without peering into the file in front of him, Schaaf knew what afflicted Lily. “I’ve seen enough children that when I see someone with autism, I have a high suspicion for it,” he says.  Read more

Largest study of home-testing for HPV underscores its promise — and problems

Largest study of home-testing for HPV underscores its promise — and problems

It’s an understatement to say that HPV has made headlines in recent weeks, but there’s another way the virus might be hitting home. While a clinic-based DNA test for the virus received regulatory approval in the US in 2000, researchers are now exploring the possibility of at-home testing to screen for the pathogen.  Read more

Obama leans on regulatory agency to prioritize drug shortages

With the US Congress largely in a state of ineffectual paralysis, President Barack Obama has turned to his executive authority to get things done. Last week, he signed an executive order that will shorten the time it takes to turn federally-funded research into commercial products. And this afternoon, he pushed through an executive action aimed at tackling the current drug shortages affecting patients, doctors, clinical trials and biomedical researchers nationwide.  Read more

Python fatty acids could provide heart repair treatment

Python fatty acids could provide heart repair treatment

Hearts under stress need to work harder, and cardiac cells bulk up to facilitate this output. But healthy heart cell growth, caused by exercise or pregnancy, occurs by a different mechanism than so-called pathological growth, induced by heart attack or high blood pressure.  Read more

New patent sharing scheme targets neglected diseases, but with a possible catch

Diseases that disproportionally afflict the world’s poor provide few incentives for profit-seeking drug companies. In the past couple years, collaborative patent sharing schemes have popped up to remedy this by helping drugmakers develop low-cost medicines for less developed nations. Last year, for example, UNITAID launched the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), which focuses on HIV drugs.  Read more

Polio eradication endpoint of 2012 will not be met, according to report

Polio eradication endpoint of 2012 will not be met, according to report

In 1988, health groups and governments around the world launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a public-private partnership aimed at eradicating the poliovirus by 2000. That year has come and gone, and still the contagious virus plagues many parts of the world, with ongoing outbreaks in China, Pakistan and Madagascar, just to name a few countries.  Read more

Better animal models needed for malaria vaccine development, experts say

Better animal models needed for malaria vaccine development, experts say

On Tuesday, highly-anticipated preliminary results from a phase 3 clinical trial of the RTS,S vaccine against malaria found that vaccinated young children had a 56% lower risk of developing the infection. The vaccine’s maker, London’s GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been involved with the vaccine since the early 1980s. But its history goes back further to mouse research conducted at New York University (NYU) in the 1960s. Yet, despite a half century of research into malaria vaccines and numerous clinical trials, laboratory models of the disease have changed little — a fact that experts say could be hindering the development of new vaccines.  Read more