Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — June 3, 2022
Spider Venom as a “Heart Attack Wonder Drug.” The New York Times carries a fascinating article headlined “Deadly Venom from Spiders and Snakes May Also Cure What Ails You.” It covers the growing field of venomics and the efforts to research the vast swarm of proteins in venom. Leslie V. Boyer, a professor emeritus of pathology at the University of Arizona, says: “There’s a pharmacopoeia out there waiting to be explored.” The article covers use of venom from the Israeli deathstalker scorpion to illuminate breast and colon tumors; using bee sting venom to kill aggressive breast cancer cells; and venom-derived drugs from Australia’s deadly Fraser Island funnel web spider to stop cell death after a heart attack. “It looks like it’s going to be a heart attack wonder drug,” said Bryan Fry, an associate professor of toxicology at the University of Queensland, who is familiar with the research but was not involved in it. “And it’s from one of the most vilified creatures.” The article notes “there is usually no need to gather venom to make these drugs. Once they are identified, they can be synthesized.”
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“I’m Not Fat, I’m Storing Stem Cells to Fight Parkinson’s Disease.” You can use that line the next time someone questions your choice of maple bars for breakfast and double cheeseburgers for lunch. FIERCE Biotech carries the headline “Fat could hold key to stem cell treatments for Parkinson's disease.” The article reports on a study in Science Translational Medicine about researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital studying neural stem cells found in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) in mice. The article notes the cells included “Schwann cells, a type of cell involved in the maintenance and regeneration of the motor and sensory neurons of the peripheral nervous system. Further in vitro analysis of these Schwann cells showed they can develop stem-cell-like qualities.” The researchers were quoted: “Because adipose stem cells are widely considered to be safe therapeutic agents for humans … the derivation of SAT-[neural stem cells] offers unprecedented potential for therapeutic application in neurological diseases.”
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“Share and Share Alike: A New Era for Data.” The Wall Street Journal carries an article under that headline about the value to be derived by “simplifying the mechanics of data sharing across and between organizations—all while preserving the veil of privacy.” The article notes: “As the data-sharing trend advances, more organizations are likely to engage in ‘data collaboration’ to tackle common challenges and pursue mutually beneficial revenue, operational, and research opportunities.” The article says three things are required to make this all work: “Opportunity, ease of use, and privacy.” Of course that’s exactly what we’ve long been doing with our CDD Vault, the hosted biological and chemical database securely manages your private and external data, and enables secure data sharing on a granular basis.
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AI and Machine Learning: “Unleashing a New Golden Age of Scientific Discovery.” Forbes carries an article on the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, with a positive prognosis of how these technologies could help fuel drug discovery. Human intuition, wisdom, and experience will guide the way with AI and machine learning. The article reads in part: “AI enables an unprecedented ability to analyze enormous data sets and computationally discover complex relationships and patterns. AI, augmenting human intelligence, is primed to transform the scientific research process, unleashing a new golden age of scientific discovery in the coming years.”
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“Paxlovid, Personally.” That’s the headline for Derek Lowe’s very personal blog entry in Science, about his recent bout with COVID-19 … and his use of Paxlovid. I’ve always enjoyed Derek’s writing, so it was especially interesting to see how his keen scientific mind dealt with the fact that after two years of dodging bullets, he and his wife contracted the virus. He later wrote a follow-up blog post. The good news is he and his wife seemed to have survived with relatively minor discomfort … nothing at all like the misery he endured some years earlier with a bout of double pneumonia. Here’s how he rated pneumonia: “Zero out of five stars, would not try again, and if it weren't for modern antibiotics this blog might have come to an abrupt halt in early 2016 along with everything else I was doing, such as breathing.”
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. CDD Vault® is a hosted biological and chemical database that securely manages your private and external data.