Carl Zimmer: Curing our Influenza Amnesia. By Carl Zimmer Our brains are not the only places where we can store memories.
Each time a new pathogen invades our bodies, our immune cells have an opportunity to recognize it by some feature, usually some distinctive cleft or spike of a protein on its surface. After our bodies defeat the infection, some immune cells are tasked with keeping the memory of that feature alive for years. If that same pathogen returns for a second attack, our bodies can launch a far faster counterattack. We can tutor our immune systems with vaccines. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the flu virus. Every fall, doctors offices and pharmacies get a fresh load of influenza vaccines. This cycle of failure is due to the fact that flu viruses are masters of evolution.
Flu viruses evolve quickly for another reason: They can have a viral version of sex. Every few decades, this cycle of flu evolution is punctuated by a dramatic change. Then the scientists tried out the antibodies on other kinds of flu. BBC Radio 4 Programmes - The End of Drug Discovery. Radio 4 The End of Drug Discovery - The End of Drug Dis... The end of drug discovery? 21 May 2012Last updated at 20:32 ET By Smitha Mundasad BBC Radio 4 Will we find new cures for the 21st Century?
Half a century ago, in the drug industry's golden era, we were bestowed with countless pills to lower blood pressure, control blood sugar and get rid of infections. But today it costs about $1bn to bring a new medicine to market, a process that can take 15 years. The industry faces multiple crises as budgets are squeezed and tough scientific challenges loom. Academics and patients' groups are concerned we will not have the drugs necessary to treat future ills. Last year, the World Health Organization's director general, Margaret Chan, warned that the world was heading for a "post-antibiotic era". She raised fears that many common infections might no longer have a cure and could once again "kill unabated".
Major problems, Dr Chan suggested, included growing resistance to antibiotics. 'Inefficient model' But the old model of drug discovery is no longer working well. 'Better visibility' E-volution: Biochemistry news. Alzheimer’s drug candidate may be first to prevent disease progression A new drug candidate may be the first capable of halting the devastating mental decline of Alzheimer’s disease, based on the findings of a study published today in PLoS ONE.
When given to mice with Alzheimer’s, the drug, known as J147, improved memory and prevented brain damage caused by the disease. The new compound, developed by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, could be tested for treatment of the disease in humans in the near future. “J147 enhances memory in both normal and Alzheimer’s mice and also protects the brain from the loss of synaptic connections,” says David Schubert, the head of Salk’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, whose team developed the new drug. “No drugs on the market for Alzheimer’s have both of these properties.” Scientists are unclear what causes Alzheimer’s, which appears to emerge from a complex mix of genetics, environment and lifestyle factors. E-Patients. Dave deBronkart: Meet e-Patient Dave. Marine Animals May Offer Solution to Rejection of Transplanted Organs.