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    January 19, 2024

    Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — January 18, 2024

    Barry Bunin, PhD Founder & CEO Collaborative Drug Discovery

    Barry Bunin, PhD
    Founder & CEO
    Collaborative Drug Discovery

    Nanoplastics in that Bottle of Water Can Cross Your Blood-Brain Barrier. With alarms still ringing about the threat of microplastics in the environment, stakes just got higher with scientists using SRS microscopy to identify the presence of nanoplastics in bottled water and elsewhere, including the human body. Research published in PNAS found that nanoplastics (measuring less than 1/1,000th the width of a human hair) were found at the rate of about 240,000 per liter of bottled water. The minuscule particles can invade individual cells and tissues in major organs, potentially interrupting cellular processes and depositing endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as bisphenols, phthalates, flame retardants, per- and poly fluorinated substances, or PFAS, and heavy metals. “All of those chemicals are used in the manufacturing of plastic, so if a plastic makes its way into us, it’s carrying those chemicals with it. And because the temperature of the body is higher than the outside, those chemicals are going to migrate out of that plastic and end up in our body,” Sherri Mason, Director of Sustainability at Penn State Behrend in Erie, Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study, told CNN. “The chemicals can be carried to your liver and your kidney and your brain and even make their way across the placental boundary and end up in an unborn child.”

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    "You Can Now Get Weight-Loss Drugs Right from Eli Lilly.” That’s the headline in a recent Wall Street Journal article about new online LillyDirect service offering telehealth prescriptions and direct home delivery of its new anti-obesity drug Zepbound. The article describes this as “An unusual move into the drug supply chain by a pharmaceutical company with one of the hottest- selling medicines. … The foray takes Lilly into new terrain and turns it into something of a rival to firms like Weight Watchers and pharmacies that the company sells its drugs to.” The article quotes Lilly Chief Executive David Ricks, saying: “We’ve noticed that patients often struggle to manage their disease not because of the medicine itself but because the pathway to getting the medicine can be really challenging. Sometimes that’s the pharmacy experience where products are out of stock or markups in pricing are confusing.”

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    “Sound Waves Get Alzheimer’s Drug Past Brain Barrier, Small Study Shows.” That’s how The Washington Post introduces a report on researchers having used sound waves fired into specific areas of the brain to open a protective barrier and clear the way for Alzheimer’s medications. Just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers applied focused ultrasound with each of six monthly aducanumab infusions to temporarily open the blood–brain barrier with the goal of enhancing amyloid removal in selected brain regions in three participants over a period of 6 months. They found the reduction in the level of Aβ was numerically greater in regions treated with focused ultrasound than in the homologous regions in the contralateral hemisphere that were not treated with focused ultrasound, as measured by fluorine-18 florbetaben positron-emission tomography. “We want to be very cautious,” Ali Rezai, lead author of the study and Executive Chair and Director of the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University, told The Washington Post. “This is the first three people in the world that have had this [treatment]. What we’ve learned from this, I think, can help us.” Rezai stressed that the goal of the research is not to replace pharmaceutical treatments but to improve their benefits by helping more of the drug penetrate the brain.

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    Epstein Bar Virus and Multiple Sclerosis “A Classic of Modern Immunology."  Derek Lowe, in his blog for Science, writes with optimism about continuing research reports on the relationship between EBV and MS. He points to the discovery of a region of an EBV protein with similarities in structure to the glial cells that produce and maintain the myelin sheath around neurons. This means that antibodies against one, could also attack the other. He points to a more recent paper providing additional insight and validation for such mechanisms. A few days later he posted a follow up blog about yet another new paper linking EBV virus found in the  cerebrospinal fluid of MS patients which adds weight to the idea that “The MS story is an autoimmune war between T-cell and B-cell populations over cross-recognition of EBV and glial cell proteins, and this lands right into that framework.” Lowe notes: “This whole story is turning into a classic of modern immunology. There are still some details to be worked out, but a lot of strong evidence is coming together. … It's an active field, for sure! And the next few years should see even more puzzle pieces falling into place. I'm glad to be able to witness it all in real time.”

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    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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