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    March 26, 2024

    Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — March 26, 2024

    Barry Bunin, PhD Founder & CEO Collaborative Drug Discovery

    Barry Bunin, PhD
    Founder & CEO
    Collaborative Drug Discovery

    “There’s Plastic in My Plaque!” That’s how Eric Topol summarizes a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Plastics, Fossil Carbon, and the Heart.” The report by Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., begins: “Plastics have enabled extraordinary advances in virtually every area of medicine and have made our lives immeasurably more convenient. Multiple lines of evidence now indicate, however, that plastics are neither as safe nor as inexpensive as they seem. The benefits of plastics come at great and increasingly visible costs to human health and the environment.” Landrigan notes: “The finding of microplastics and nanoplastics in [atherosclerotic] plaque tissue is itself a breakthrough discovery that raises a series of urgent questions.”

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    “A New Strategy to Attack Aggressive Brain Cancer Shrank Tumors in Two Early Tests.” The Associated Press carries that headline about researchers from Penn Medicine finding that “Dual-Target” cell therapy appears to shrink glioblastoma tumors. The research, just released in Nature Medicine, finds that targeting two brain tumor-associated proteins—rather than one—with CAR T cell therapy shows promise as a strategy for reducing solid tumor growth in patients with recurrent glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. This is based on early results from the first six patients treated in an ongoing Phase I clinical trial led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Mass General. At Mass General, Dr. Marcela Maus’ lab combined CAR-T with T-cell engaging antibody molecules — molecules that can attract nearby, regular T cells to join in the cancer attack. The result, dubbed CAR-TEAM, targets versions of a protein called EGFR that’s found in most glioblastomas but not normal brain tissue. Penn’s approach was to create “dual-target” therapy that hunts for both that EGFR protein plus a second protein found in many glioblastomas. Both teams infused the treatment through a catheter into the fluid that bathes the brain. Dr. Maus told the AP that the researchers were surprised to see tumor shrinkage. “None of us could really believe it. That doesn’t happen.” The challenge now is to sustain shrinkage after treatment. The AP reports: “Two of the patients’ tumors began to regrow soon and a repeat dose given to one of them didn’t work. But one patient’s response to the experimental treatment lasted more than six months.”

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    “These Drug Companies Are Going Nuclear to Fight Cancer.” That’s the headline from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about pharmaceutical companies increasing investments in nuclear medicine and targeted approaches to fight cancer. The article reads, in part: “Pharmaceutical companies are spending billions of dollars to develop drugs that can target cancer like guided missiles. Therapies known as antibody-drug conjugates, which help deliver chemotherapy directly to tumors, have gotten most of the attention and are farthest along. More quietly, a concept known as radiopharmaceuticals is also gaining ground. In recent months, interest in this space has led to a rise in dealmaking. The idea is … a patient receives an old treatment—in this case, a radioactive particle instead of chemotherapy drugs—but it is bound with a molecule that can chase down tumor cells.”

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    "Looking at the Secret Machinery of the Chemical World.” That’s how Derek Lowe describes the findings of a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society titled “Monitoring the Evolution of Relative Product Populations at Early Times During a Photochemical Reaction.” Researchers worked with the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center(SLAC) which provides "mega-electron volt ultrafast electron diffraction” to determine molecular species on a very small scale and on an extremely short time scale. Writing in his blog for Science, Lowe notes: “It's like getting a chance to look at the secret machinery of the chemical world—things that you knew had to be there but assumed would always be hidden. … There is a lot going on at very, very fast time scales in chemistry, and being able to look inside the black boxes like this is going to tell us a lot!”

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    “Single Dose of LSD Provides Immediate and Lasting Relief from Anxiety, Study Says.” That’s the headline from CNN, about a clinical trial’s encouraging results winning FDA breakthrough therapy status for an LSD formulation to treat generalized anxiety disorder. Researchers report that the clinical improvement for many patients was more than double what is seen today’s standard of care, and improvements were seen at all levels of anxiety, from moderate all the way up to severe. Professor David Nutt, Director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit at Imperial College London’s Division of Brain Sciences, and who wasn’t involved in the study, said the study results “are very exciting data in what can be a difficult to treat population (anxiety).”

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    “FDA Guidelines Consider Amyloid Reduction "Reasonably Likely to Predict Alzheimer's Benefit.” That’s the headline from FIERCE Biotech’s coverage of an FDA update to guidelines for Alzheimer’s clinical trials. The article begins: “Ever since the controversial approval  of Biogen and Eisai's Aduhelm, debate has swirled around the strength of the link between amyloid reduction and the cognitive benefits of potential Alzheimer's disease treatments. The FDA appears to have stepped back into this arena as part of fresh updates to its guidance on these drugs.” The FDA is saying amyloid reduction may serve as a “surrogate endpoint for predicting clinical benefit,” according to the draft guidelines released March 11. Stakeholders can submit comments to the FDA regarding the new guidelines by June 10.

     

    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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