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How Our Immune System Causes Heart Attacks (and Cancer)

by Giulia Notarangelo figures by Abagail Burrus A drug that might significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and lung cancer is being hailed by researchers as the biggest breakthrough in the treatment of cardiovascular disease since the introduction of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins over 30 years ago. Despite the fact that drug companies sell over $30 billion worth of statins annually, roughly 600,000 people still … Continue reading How Our Immune System Causes Heart Attacks (and Cancer)

DNABloodTest

Catching Cancer: Blood Test for Early-Stage Diagnosis

What is the difference between a normal cell and a cancer cell? The answer lies in their DNA. Cancer results from the accumulation of genetic mutations, which trigger uncontrolled cell growth. Cancer’s mutated DNA can reveal its presence early on in the disease. Like leaving fingerprints at a crime scene, tumor cells release small pieces of DNA into the bloodstream. This “circulating tumor DNA” can now … Continue reading Catching Cancer: Blood Test for Early-Stage Diagnosis

Human Lymphocyte

Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Results from a small clinical trial comprising 86 cancer patients have prompted scientists to rethink how different cancers are classified and treated. The drug being assessed was Keytruda, a recent addition to oncologists’ arsenal of cancer immunotherapy drugs.  Unlike traditional chemotherapies, which poison and kill cancer cells directly, cancer immunotherapy recruits the body’s own self-defense machinery to attack tumors.  Although our immune systems are very good … Continue reading Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Repatha's clinical trial involved over 27,000 patients and cost over $1 billion. ['The City' from Herry Lawford]

Heart Disease Drug Faces Biggest Test Yet

We just learned a lot more about a drug called Repatha, one of the newest weapons in the war against heart disease.  Heart-related diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for over 30% of global deaths.  One of the major physiological warning signs of heart disease is “bad” cholesterol (LDL), which can clog arteries and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. … Continue reading Heart Disease Drug Faces Biggest Test Yet

T Cell

FDA suspends (and promptly restarts) clinical trial for new cancer therapy

Bringing a new medical therapy to market is rarely a straightforward task, as a biotech company called Juno Therapeutics learned firsthand.  Juno specializes in CAR-T therapy, which uses genetic engineering to teach a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, 3 of the 129 patients who had received this treatment in a clinical trial recently died from excessive brain swelling, prompting the FDA to … Continue reading FDA suspends (and promptly restarts) clinical trial for new cancer therapy

PaxilTablet640: Image obtained from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paxil,_June_2003.jpg

A Reanalysis: Paxil Declared Unsafe for Teens

In 2001, a famous clinical trial, Study 329, declared that the antidepressant Paxil was safe for adolescents. After a great deal of controversy, criticism, and numerous lawsuits, patient level data was finally made available by GlaxoSmithKlein for reanalysis. The original study found that adolescents on Paxil fared no better than those given a placebo on the study’s standard depression questionnaire, but did improve according to … Continue reading A Reanalysis: Paxil Declared Unsafe for Teens