The Science Behind Opioid Addiction

Emily BurkeBusiness of Biotech, Cocktail Fodder, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, The WEEKLY

THE SCIENCE BEHIND OPIOIDS Concerns over the opioid epidemic continue to grow, with deaths from narcotic overdoses the leading cause of death in people under 50 last year. Nearly half of those deaths were attributable to prescription opioids. The directors of both the Center for Disease Control (Atlanta, GA) and the Food and Drug Administration (Silver Spring, MD) have called … Read More

Circadian Rhythm & Disease

Emily BurkeBiologics, Cancer, Diabetes, Mechanism of Action, The WEEKLY

AND THE BEAT GOES ON Earlier this week, the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three American scientists (Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash, of Brandeis University, and Michael Young, of Rockefeller University) for their work in deciphering the molecular basis of circadian rhythm – the 24-hour cycle that governs the inner workings of all life on … Read More

The Multiple Myeloma Landscape

Emily BurkeBiologics, Cancer, Clinical Trials, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Easily Confused, Genetics, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies, Small Molecule Drugs

BLOOD CANCER: MULTIPLE MYELOMA Plasma cells are the antibody-producing cells of our immune system which happen to play a critical role in our defense against infections. In multiple myeloma, plasma cells begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled manner, forming a cancerous mass known as a plasmacytoma. Marrow — which produces plasma — no longer functions in our defense, it simply takes … Read More

Eye Of The Cytokine Storm

Emily BurkeBiologics, Biotech Basics, Cancer, Clinical Trials, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Small Molecule Drugs, The WEEKLY

THE FLASH OF THE FIRST CAR-T Last week’s much anticipated FDA approval of the first chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia hails as the first gene therapy on the US  market. Classified as a “cell-based gene therapy,” Novartis’ (Basel, Switzerland) Kymriah works by removing patients’ T-cells, using a viral vector to introduce a gene that will allow the … Read More

Vaccines: Schooling The Herd

Emily BurkeBiologics, Biotech Basics, Clinical Trials, Drug Development, Mechanism of Action, The WEEKLY

VACCINATION NATION Back to school means shopping for new school supplies, adjusting to a new schedule, and making sure all required vaccinations are up to date. Every state requires school-age children to be vaccinated against certain infectious diseases including tetanus, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, pertussis (whooping cough), and chicken pox. Vaccination policies are highly effective at eliminating many … Read More

The Science Of CRISPR/Cas9

Emily BurkeBiologics, Business of Biotech, Cancer, Clinical Trials, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Drug Development, Drug Targets, Genetics, Genomics, Mechanism of Action, Ribonucleic Acid (RNA)

CRISPR/CAS9 UPDATE As CRISPR/Cas9 adds new indications to its resume, legal battles over its IP continue to be waged in the US and Europe. On the clinical front, CRISPR/Cas9 entered its first human trial at Sichuan University (Chengdu, China) last fall for metastatic lung cancer, and is widely expected to do so in the U.S. by the end of the year. This … Read More

Stopping A Big Problem: Blood Clots

Emily BurkeCocktail Fodder, Drug Approvals, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Small Molecule Drugs

MEDS FOR THINNER BLOOD CAN EQUAL FEWER CLOTS, BUT HOW? The FDA’s recent approval of Portola Pharmaceuticals’ (South San Francisco, CA) new blood thinner drug Bevyxxa paved the way for the prevention of blood clots in patients hospitalized for conditions such as heart failure, stroke, and pulmonary disease. The medical term for blood clot is venous thromboembolism (VTE), but if we take it apart: “venous” means relating … Read More

Breast Cancer Subtypes

Emily BurkeBiotech Basics, Cancer, Genetics, Mechanism of Action

FOUR MOLECULAR VARIANTS EXPLAINED Hearing your doctor utter the words HER2-positive, HR-positive, triple-negative, or BRCA mutation can be devastating — even for the most resilient person. Simply put, breast cancer is a complex disease. A diagnosis can be derived from any combination of the factors listed above — or, none at all. The National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, MD) has outlined four molecular subtypes of the disease. … Read More

Epigenome: Writing, Reading & Erasing

Emily BurkeCancer, Clinical Trials, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Drug Development, Drug Targets, Genomics, Mechanism of Action, Small Molecule Drugs

FOUNDATIONS OF EPIGENETICS Genetic mutations — changes in the order of the A, C, G, and T nucleotide bases that make up a gene — have been the primary focus of cancer researchers over the last several decades. By sussing out mutations involved in regulating cell growth and division, scientists better understand the molecular range of different cancers and consequently develop … Read More

Nanobodies: These Are Not Your Mother’s mAbs

Emily BurkeBiologics, Biotech Basics, Cancer, Clinical Trials, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies, Orphan Disease, Orphan Drugs

The Drug Kingpins Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are the undisputed drug kingpins. In 2013, the mAb market raked in $75 billion in combined sales, covering a whole range of indications from cancer and infectious disease, to autoimmune disorders, and even high cholesterol. Despite the success, mAbs have one chink in their armor: they cannot enter cells due to their large size, hampering their range … Read More

Viruses Blasting Cancer

Emily BurkeBiologics, Clinical Trials, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Ribonucleic Acid (RNA)

Engineering Viruses To Attack Getting bacteria-eating viruses to combat antibiotic resistance isn’t the only way viruses are being hacked to defend team homo sapien. This week, we’ll turn our attention to another benevolent use of viruses: cancer-fighters known as oncolytic viruses. Oncolytic Virus Primer Oncolytic viruses are an immunotherapy — a type of therapy that harnesses the power of a patient’s immune system to combat a disease. … Read More

Phage — More Than Just A Phase

Emily BurkeBiologics, Clinical Trials, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Term of the Week, The WEEKLY

Old Way Of Fighting Bacteria Renewed One of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century is antibiotic resistance, which occurs when a few bacteria in a given population develop a genetic mutation that enables them to survive — even in the presence of antibiotics. How do bacteria become drug resistant? Suppose a particular antibiotic inhibits an enzyme required for bacterial replication. … Read More

RNA Therapeutics March Onward

Emily BurkeAntisense, Biotech Basics, Clinical Trials, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Orphan Disease, Orphan Drugs, Ribonucleic Acid (RNA), The WEEKLY

Taking Steps With Antisense With their high specificity and relative low manufacturing cost, RNA therapeutics may be tomorrow’s biotech sweetheart. In fact, chances are good that previously “undruggable” targets that cannot be accessed by small or large molecule drugs, are now within reach. However, the main roadblock continues to be delivery—getting the RNA drug where it needs to be, in high enough concentrations, to … Read More

Putting The NA in DNA

Emily BurkeBiologics, Biotech Basics, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Clinical Trials, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies, Ribonucleic Acid (RNA), Small Molecule Drugs, The WEEKLY

Nucleic Acid Therapeutics Small molecule, peptide, and biologic drugs aren’t the only players in the game of drug development. A fourth class of therapeutics differs from all three of these: nucleic acid-based drugs. These drugs are rising in prominence due to their potential to specifically target a wide range of diseases, including various types of cancer, autoimmune, and infectious diseases. Companies … Read More

The Science Of CRISPR/CAS9

Emily BurkeBiologics, Business of Biotech, Cancer, Clinical Trials, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Drug Development, Drug Targets, Genomics, Mechanism of Action, Ribonucleic Acid (RNA), The WEEKLY

 CRISPR/CAS9 UPDATE CRISPR/Cas9 can’t seem to stay out of the news — from first in human to patent disputes, we here at the WEEKLY want to update you on this hot technology. A group of scientists from the State Key Laboratory of Proteomics (Beijing, China) and the National Center for Protein Sciences (Beijing, China) recently reported the first ever edit using CRISPR/Cas9 in healthy human … Read More

The PARP Race Is On

Emily BurkeCancer, Clinical Trials, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Drug Approvals, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Easily Confused, FDA, Mechanism of Action, The WEEKLY

PARP1 INHIBITOR LINEUP PARP1 inhibitors are making a strong statement! Tesaro’s (Waltham, MA) just-approved Zejula has garnered predictions of blockbuster status. AstraZeneca’s (Cambridge, UK) Lynparza was the first PARP1 inhibitor to make it to market back in 2014, and their recent clinical trial results showed significant survival benefit in ovarian cancer. Clovis Oncology (Boulder, CO) achieved the second FDA approval of a PARP1 inhibitor with Rubraca in … Read More