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Genetically engineered viruses: a medicine of the future

A medical team at Johns Hopkins University genetically engineered a common cold virus to deposit a gene when injected into the human eye. This gene codes for a protein that binds to VEGF, another protein whose activity in old age contributes to vision loss (a disease called AMD or wet AMD). This small clinical study’s preliminary results show that just one small dose is potent enough to improve a patient’s vision loss. Continue reading Genetically engineered viruses: a medicine of the future

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A new medical implant might greatly reduce the risk of chemotherapy treatment

Chemotherapy is a common and dangerous cancer treatment due to the negative effects on everything that is not a tumor cell. Researchers from Columbia University have invented a soft medical implant capable of administering drugs from inside the body. The ability to place this device close to the target area allows for a significant (90%) reduction of the drug dosage to be used. Similarly, avoiding body-wide administration of the drug can greatly reduce the damage inflicted by normal chemotherapy dosages. Continue reading A new medical implant might greatly reduce the risk of chemotherapy treatment

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Should we pay for drugs or cures? How tracking drug effectiveness could improve US healthcare spending

by Dan Tarjan  figures by Krissy Lyon The EpiPen, the antiparasitic drug Daraprim, the blood pressure medication Nitropress. These life saving drugs have recently been in the news because their prices spiked by over 100% year-to-year without any apparent reason except increasing profits. And they’re not alone. Across the US healthcare industry, specialty drug prices are rising. These brand name products marked a 16.2% increase … Continue reading Should we pay for drugs or cures? How tracking drug effectiveness could improve US healthcare spending

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First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved

The first clinical trial using the gene editing technique CRISPR was given the go-ahead by panel from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trial is aimed at determining if the technique is safe for use on human subjects. As there is much we have yet to learn about genes and their expression, it is a valid concern that modifying DNA in humans could … Continue reading First Human Trial of Gene Editing Technique CRISPR Approved

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Down, but not out: Developments in depression research

by Emily Ricq Depression affects 15 million Americans and is characterized by debilitating feelings of sadness or emptiness that interfere with the ability to lead and enjoy life [1]. The substantial personal and public health burden imposed by depression has motivated decades of intensive research by scientists, clinicians, therapists, and pharmaceutical companies alike, yet the biology underlying the cause (or causes) of the disease and … Continue reading Down, but not out: Developments in depression research

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Insect Zoopharmacognosy: Finding medicine where you least expect it

by Fernanda Ferreira figures by Krissy Lyon The young, scaly creature bursts from the torso of its doomed host in a mix of guts and blood and stares blinkingly at its new environment. For most people the sentence above describes a famous scene from Ridley Scott’s Alien, but for many insects it’s a daily reality. The inspiration for H.R. Giger’s nightmarish alien comes from one … Continue reading Insect Zoopharmacognosy: Finding medicine where you least expect it

Cells in your blood, like those shown in this microscope image, are coated in membranes that the body recognizes as non-foreign, preventing the immune system from attacking them. Cloaking nanoparticles in such membranes allows them to slip past the defense system unnoticed, so they can deliver drugs to sites in the body without confrontation. (Hanna Sӧrensson, Flickr, Creative Commons)

Friend or Foe? Getting the body to make peace with bioengineered drug delivery systems

Recent drug discoveries promise new treatments and cures for many diseases. However, getting a drug to work, not only in experiments with cells in the lab, but also in the human body, is difficult. One challenge? Getting past the body’s line of defense, the immune system, which fights foreign invaders that make it into the body. In September, a news article reported that scientists have … Continue reading Friend or Foe? Getting the body to make peace with bioengineered drug delivery systems