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    September 20, 2023

    Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — September 20, 2023

    Barry Bunin, PhD Founder & CEO Collaborative Drug Discovery Barry Bunin, PhD
    Founder & CEO
    Collaborative Drug Discovery

    When the Active Ingredient Isn’t Active … or At Least Effective. Over the counter cold medicines are under a glaring spotlight after headlines like this one from The New York Times: “A Decongestant in Cold Medicines Doesn’t Work at All, an F.D.A. Panel Says.” An advisory panel to the FDA recently agreed unanimously phenylephrine, a common decongestant ingredient used in many over-the-counter cold medicines is ineffective. The New York Times reports the decongestant is in at least 250 products that were worth nearly $1.8 billion in sales last year, according to an agency presentation. Among the products: Sudafed Sinus Congestion, Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe, NyQuil Severe Cold & Flu, Theraflu Severe Cold Relief, Mucinex Sinus Max and others. The decongestant has been under fire for decades. Dr. Leslie Hendeles, a pharmacist from the University of Florida in Gainesville who, along with colleagues, first petitioned the F.D.A. in 2007 to remove the drug from the market, says: “If you have a stuffy nose and you take this medicine, you will still have a stuffy nose.”

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    “Ozempic, Wegovy May Curb Drinking, Smoking and Other Addictive Behaviors – Here’s What We Know.” That’s the headline from a CNBC article on how new weight-loss drugs can reduce not just the craving for food, but for alcohol, illicit drugs, and even compulsive behaviors such as gambling and compulsive online shopping. Anecdotal reports of patients taking GLP-1 drugs for diabetes or to shed unwanted pounds also losing addictive behavior match what scientists found in numerous animal studies. The article quotes a person receiving a weekly injection of Ozempic finding her desire for wine diminished: “I could have a few sips of wine and just be satisfied and move on. I didn’t need multiple glasses a night, so it definitely seems to help with that.” Studies on animals, including a study on binge-drinking rats published in JCI Insight, have found that GLP-1 drugs reduce the consumption of alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, heroin and amphetamines. “The mechanism in the brain that regulates overeating is important in regulating addictive behaviors as well,” Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, Clinical Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse told CNBC. “There is a clear shared overlap. So it’s possible that the medications may help people with addiction by acting on that specific mechanism.”

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    Using “Microscopic Carrier Pigeons” to Fight Disease. Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are harnessing exosomes, or extracellular vesicles (EV), for targeted drug delivery and immunotherapy, according to a recent article in Drug Discovery News, headlined Rewiring Cell Communication to Treat Melanoma. The article notes that cells eject exosomes, which are about the size of a virus, from their surfaces. They generally carry proteins or RNA and are enveloped by a lipid bilayer. Researchers first assumed that exosomes were a waste disposal system, but they’re now known to play a critical role in cell-to-cell communication both locally and throughout the body. The article explains “As the vesicle bops around the interstitial space between cells, it may fuse with a neighboring cell. Like a virus, the exosome enters and spills biomolecular information into the new cell. They are carrier pigeons at the microscopic scale. Researchers have begun to ask how they can hijack this communication network. Since exosomes can haul cargo that stimulates the immune system, they could potentially protect patients when immune checkpoint inhibitors stop working.”

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    “Covid is Here to Stay. How Will We Know When It Stops Being Special?” That’s the question a recent article in The Washington Post explores—especially relevant in light of the recent flurry over BA.2.86, the emerging coronavirus variant that despite its heavy mutations doesn’t appear to be as threatening as initially feared. The article reads, “New coronavirus variants are making headlines. Photos of positive test results are popping up on social media feeds. Hospitalizations are increasing. Far from the start of a sensational new chapter in the pandemic, experts say this uptick is the new normal in a world with Covid as an endemic disease. Now, with some level of immunity nearly ubiquitous across the country, many people are wondering when — or if — we can stop treating the coronavirus differently from other common respiratory ailments.” While several experts were interviewed, a unified answer doesn’t emerge—especially with the continued specter of long Covid. As the saying goes: We are tired of Covid, but the virus isn’t tired of us. Some researchers fear complacency could be a problem should a more deadly variant appear. “My worry,” said Justin Lessler, an Epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, “is our barometer of [knowing] when it is time to really respond in earnest is broken.”

    Barry A. Bunin, PhD, is the Founder & CEO of Collaborative Drug Discovery, which provides a modern approach to drug discovery research informatics trusted globally by thousands of leading researchers. The CDD Vault is a hosted biological and chemical database that securely manages your private and external data.

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