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    March 16, 2024

    Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — March 15, 2024

    Barry Bunin, PhD Founder & CEO Collaborative Drug Discovery

    Barry Bunin, PhD
    Founder & CEO
    Collaborative Drug Discovery

    “Long Covid ‘Brain Fog’ May Be Due to Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier, Study Finds.” That’s the headline for The Guardian’s coverage of a recent report in Nature Neuroscience finding that if barrier-controlling substances entering and exiting brain are off balance, it can drive changes in neural function. Prof Matthew Campbell, co-author of the research at Trinity College Dublin, said “The whole concept that a lot of these neurological conditions, including brain fog, could be treated by simply regulating the integrity of the blood-brain barrier is really exciting.” Meanwhile, Science carries an article “Solving the Puzzle of Long Covid,” stating that “Long covid provides an opportunity to understand how acute infections cause chronic disease. … It is a complex nonmonolithic multisystemic disease with sequelae across almost all organ systems. Long Covid is likely a disease with many subtypes that may have different risk factors (genetic, environmental, etc.) and distinct biologic mechanisms that may respond differently to treatments.”

    * * *

    Can African Ants Produce Antibiotics Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria? The Washington Post carries an article headlined “Ants’ Ability to Heal Comrades May Hold Lessons for Human Infections” about the work of Erik Frank, a scientist in the University of Würzburg Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, and his team, recently published in Nature Communications. The study looks at Sub-Saharan Megaponera ants which live solely on termites, which fight back ferociously when attacked. The researchers found that when an ant is wounded, its comrades produce an antimicrobial and apply it to the injured ant’s wound—with a nearly 90% cure rate. Making the research especially relevant, their research focused on ants infected with,Making the research especially relevant, their research focused on ants infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a virulent and often drug-resistant bacterium common to ant injuries. It’s the same microbe that tainted human eyedrops in the United States last year, causing cases of blindness and death. Insights into the ants’ behavior could hold implications for humans, the scientists say, especially when it comes to drug-resistant bacteria, a growing threat that has made it difficult to treat certain infections. There’s “great potential here for analyses by pharmaceutical companies or other scientists in these fields to look into it further,” Frank says. “We have a scenario that is incredibly similar to our own: an animal with an infected wound and another animal treating it. Facing the same problem, the solutions these ants came up with should be translatable to some extent to our own system.”

    * * *

    “Ozempic Is Taking Off with the World’s Largest Obese Population. (Hint: It Isn’t the U.S.).” That’s the headline from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about China having more obese people than anywhere else in the world, and how they are increasingly turning to weight-loss drugs to solve the problem. The article notes that Ozempic isn’t available for weight loss in the country, instead being reserved for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. “But users on e-commerce platforms are able to buy the shots, colloquially known as “miracle drugs,” simply by declaring they have been diagnosed with diabetes—without providing proof.” Obesity in the country began expanding after the country entered the World Trade Organization in 2001. It’s estimated that there are about 200 million obese adults in China, and an additional 400 million who are overweight, with another 100 million people with obesity expected in just over a decade, despite the country’s declining population. Meanwhile, US News reports people who go off the drugs experience the same hunger levels and often the same cravings as they did before going on them, with resulting weight gain. The report (and common sense) emphasize the need for a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as the miracle drugs. 

    * * *

    “FDA Approves a Drug to Treat Severe Food Allergies, Including Milk, Eggs and Nuts.” That’s the headline from a recent NPR article on Xolair which recently was approved by the FDA to help reduce severe allergic reactions brought on by accidental exposure to certain foods. It is the first medication approved by the FDA that can help protect people against multiple food allergies. NPR reports the medication is not intended for use during an allergic reaction. Instead, it is designed to be taken repeatedly every few weeks to help reduce the risk of reactions over time. The FDA said people taking the drug should continue to avoid foods they are allergic to. Kelly Stone with the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said: "While it will not eliminate food allergies or allow patients to consume food allergens freely, its repeated use will help reduce the health impact if accidental exposure occurs." The drug was developed and co-promoted in the U.S. by Genentech and Novartis. The cost of the medication ranges from $2,900 a month for children and $5,000 a month for adults, though the cost could be brought down with insurance, according to the Associated Press.

         * * *

    “Exercise Yields Greater Benefits for Women Than Men.” That’s the headline from Neuroscience News, with Time headlining its article “To Live Longer, Women Need Half as Much Exercise as Men.” The articles are about a new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that found men who got about 300 minutes of aerobic exercise every week had an 18% lower risk of dying compared to inactive men. But among women, it took only 140 minutes of weekly exercise to see an equivalent benefit—and the risk of death was 24% lower among those who got about 300 minutes of movement per week. (For both sexes, longevity benefits seemed to plateau beyond 300 minutes of weekly exercise.)

    Previous studies have shown ~20-30 minutes a day of exercise, such as brisk walking, biking, or
    swimming has broad health benefits – see:

    https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

    https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity

    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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