The prosecution of pharma gets personal

Our September 2010 issue featured an Opinion piece written by Jeb White, a partner with the national whistleblower law firm of Nolan & Auerbach, P.A. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The title was pretty self-explanatory: Masterminds behind pharmaceutical fraud deserve prison time.  Read more

You’ve never seen a brain map like this before

Two new papers in Nature this week — one from the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany and the other from a collaborative effort between researchers at Harvard and Carnegie Mellon — provide a stunning view into how brain cells communicate. Seeing is believing, as this video demonstrates.  Read more

Clinical trial of salmonella ‘cocktail’ for cancer ongoing

Clinical trial of salmonella 'cocktail' for cancer ongoing

Salmonella is the kind of microbe people make a special effort to avoid. Long gone are the days of eating raw eggs. Instead we make sure they’re well cooked, and while we’re at it we triple-wash our spinach and handle raw chicken like a biohazard in the kitchen. But, as reported in a news feature in this month’s Nature Medicine, scientists are reworking Salmonella to be able to infiltrate the hard-to-reach centers of tumors. A press release from the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center in Minneapolis yesterday points to a clinical trial there in which scientists have engineered a  … Read more

Before leaving, Seth Berkley looks back on 15 years at the helm of IAVI

Before leaving, Seth Berkley looks back on 15 years at the helm of IAVI

The announcement yesterday that Seth Berkley will be taking the job of chief executive officer of the GAVI Alliance in August pulsed though the global health community. The GAVI Alliance, which faces a coming hurdle in raising the estimated $3.7 billion it needs to continue its global immunization efforts, has been without a CEO since the departure of Julian Lob-Levyt in October.  Read more

Infamous Korean cloner on the move again

Cross posted from Nature’s The Great Beyond blog. The strange tale of Woo Suk Hwang keeps getting more bizarre. The former Seoul National University cloner surprised the world in 2004 by claiming to have established a stem cell line from a cloned human embryo. In November 2005, he shocked colleagues by admitting, after denying, denying and then denying again, that he had knowingly used his graduate students’ eggs to achieve that feat. (Nature had reported this first a year and a half before.) The greater shock came the following month when it turned out that that feat had been faked.  Read more

Acetaminophen capped in combinations

Acetaminophen capped in combinations

In the past, we’ve covered the growing anxieties about the painkiller acetaminophen, which can cause liver problems and is often taken to excess. We’ve also reported on scientists’ worries that consumers are relatively unaware of the dangers of drug combinations. Today, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made an announcement that might lead people who harbor both concerns to let out a sigh of relief. The agency has asked drug makers to limit the amount of acetaminophen to no more than 325 milligrams per pill when included in drug combinations. “Overdose from prescription combination products containing acetaminophen account for  … Read more

Q&A with Ellen ’t Hoen, head of the Medicines Patent Pool; “I hope to have licenses to produce drugs a year from now.”

Q&A with Ellen ’t Hoen, head of the Medicines Patent Pool; “I hope to have licenses to produce drugs a year from now.”

By Asher Mullard In July, the global health financing mechanism UNITAID established an intellectual property–sharing scheme focused on scaling up access to new and lower-priced antiretroviral drugs in the developing world. The initiative—called the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP)—aims to streamline licensing processes, drive the combination of multiple HIV medicines into one pill and foster the development of drug formulations for children. In September, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) became the first contributor to the venture, licensing a suite of patents related to protease inhibitors that are used to treat HIV. The task of bringing drug firms and other  … Read more

Universities evolve, looking to Darwin for new medical insights

Universities evolve, looking to Darwin for new medical insights

By Elie Dolgin Humans are the products of millions of years of evolution through natural selection. Yet when it comes to the treatment of disease, physicians and biomedical researchers have long neglected our evolutionary pasts. Now, a number of research institutes are attempting to remedy that by launching new research centers dedicated to the burgeoning field of evolutionary medicine. The newly minted Center for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich opened its doors in late October. Backed by a $10 million donation from the private Zurich-based Mäxi Foundation, the center will focus on analyzing ancient DNA and bones as  … Read more

What’s in the mix for TB? The drugome suggests new cocktail solutions

By Stu Hutson The first-line regime of tuberculosis drugs has remained virtually unchanged for a half century. But instead of improving on these medications, some researchers say it’s time to scour the lists of already-approved drugs for other indications or start from scratch to curb the more than 1.7 million deaths from tuberculosis (TB) each year. In early November, for example, the New York–based TB Alliance announced the launch of a clinical trial to test a radically different drug cocktail. “We see this as a paradigm shift in methodology,” says Ann Ginsberg, the organization’s chief medical officer, “And it’s been  … Read more