Picturing Disease

Emily BurkeBiotech Basics, Cancer, Clinical Trials, Diagnostics, Term of the Week, The WEEKLY

USING MEDICAL IMAGING TO INVESTIGATE DISEASE Medical imaging — using various modalities to take a snapshot of the body’s interior structure — has been around since 1895, with the discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Roentgen. X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation (more on that later!) that are able to pass through soft tissues such as skin, fat, and muscle … 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

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 Mechanics Of Melanoma

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

Spectrum Of Therapies Melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases yet causes the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. If detected early enough, melanoma is almost always curable. If not, its ability to metastasize makes it difficult to treat. Melanoma is more common in young adults than many other types of cancer, with 25% of new cases occurring in people under age … Read More

Harnessing Your Immune System For Good

Emily BurkeBiologics, Biotech Basics, Cancer, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies

YOUR INNER IMMUNE WORKINGS What do monoclonal antibodies, CAR-T therapy, and checkpoint inhibitor treatments all have in common? They are immunotherapies, or therapies that activate the immune system to fight or prevent a disease. While an activated immune system can help save a life, an overactive immune system can attack the body it is charged with protecting. This over-activity is the … Read More

The Molecular Cause Of Obesity

Emily BurkeClinical Trials, Diabetes, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Term of the Week

Targeting Fat Obesity is considered one of the most pressing public health issues of the day. According to the Center for Disease Control, 37% of adults and 17% of children in the U.S. are obese. The latest drug interventions work by attempting to suppress food intake, which has proven beneficial for some. However, there is still a large unmet need … Read More

A Bone To Pick With Osteoporosis

Emily BurkeBiologics, Clinical Trials, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies

The Race To Be The Next Big Bone Drug Amgen’s recent positive Phase III results for an antibody drug is putting it neck and neck with Radius Health’s peptide — the latest in a batch of osteoporosis therapies edging their way to the market. The current widely prescribed generic — bisphosphonate — only works to slow the loss of bone, while these newer drugs add to the therapies that aim to rebuild. … Read More

Biotech In Space!

Emily BurkeBiologics, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies, The WEEKLY

Experimenting In Lower Earth’s Orbit Drug discovery in space? If this sounds like a page from science fiction, think again. Leading pharmaceutical companies are now collaborating with NASA to run experiments on the International Space Station (ISS). The focus on bone density, protein structure, vaccine development, immune function, and aging brings a swath of potential to this fascinating endeavor. In … Read More

Cancer Immunotherapy Goes Viral

Emily BurkeBiologics, Cancer, Drug Approvals, Drug Targets, FDA, Mechanism of Action, The WEEKLY

Oncolytic Viruses Make Their Debut Does a virus engineered to harness the immune system to fight cancer sound like a clever idea? Amgen (Thousand Oaks, CA) certainly thinks so, because their talimogene laherparepvec (T-Vec) recently earned an FDA approval to fight inoperable melanoma recurrent after initial surgery. Oncolytic viruses—like T-Vec—have the attention of both industry media and mainstream news programs. This new class of therapy is an elegant “hack” of the immune … Read More

Dodging Another Ebola Outbreak

Emily BurkeBiotech Basics, Clinical Trials, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Drug Development, Ebola, Genetics, HIV, The WEEKLY

Ebola Finally Meets Its Match The headlining Ebola crisis of last summer devastated West Africa, marking the largest outbreak since the discovery of the disease in 1976. The glaring lack of a treatment or vaccine caused the virus to quickly spread within Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. A small number of infected healthcare workers were able to receive an experimental antibody known as Zmapp … Read More

Immune System Checkpoint Therapies On The Case

Emily BurkeBiologics, Biotech Basics, Cancer, Clinical Trials, Diagnostics, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Monoclonal Antibodies, Term of the Week, The WEEKLY

Cancer, Meet Your Newest Opponent Immune checkpoint therapies received a lot of airtime at American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago last week. The release of promising new clinical data has everyone buzzing about more cures for more cancers as a follow-on to last year’s race to the market. The hype seems to be justified. Simply put, these … Read More

First-in-Class: 2014 Drug Approvals

Emily BurkeBiologics, Cancer, Drug Approvals, Drug Targets, FDA, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies, The WEEKLY

The FDA ushered in six new drugs just before the close of 2014, bringing the final tally to 41– the highest rate since 1996, when the agency approved 53 drugs. 2014 drug approvals were notable not only for their quantity, but also their quality. A number of new drugs utilized first-in-class mechanisms, and new pathways always put a skip in … Read More

Biotech’s Battlefront: Monoclonal Antibodies

Emily BurkeBiologics, Biotech Basics, Cancer, Drug Targets, FDA, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies, Orphan Drugs, The WEEKLY

Since their premier on the scene, monoclonal antibodies (mAb) have demanded top billing on the biotech marquee, creating a cast of therapeutics used to treat diseases like autoimmune disorders and cancer. The first player debuted in 1986 when Janssen-Cilag’s OKT3 gained FDA approval to treat transplant rejection patients. Fast forward to 2013, where half of the top ten best selling … Read More

Squeezing The Juice Out Of Drug Metabolism

Emily BurkeCardiovascular Disease, Drug Targets, HIV, Mechanism of Action, Small Molecule Drugs, Term of the Week, The WEEKLY

When popping a pill, we seldom think about what happens next—to the pill, or even to our bodies. We assume the body welcomes any extra help to fix the problem, but the reaction is quite contrary. A swallowed pill (small molecule drug) is instantly labeled by our body as foreign and the reaction of our body is to immediately get … Read More

Matters Of The Heart

Emily BurkeCardiovascular Disease, Clinical Trials, Drug Development, Drug Targets, Easily Confused, Mechanism of Action, Monoclonal Antibodies, The WEEKLY

In a picture perfect game of drug development, Novartis heartily delivered this week with LCZ696. Also propelling the world of cardiovascular disease treatments into high gear is a promising cholesterol therapeutic by Sanofi and Regeneron called alirocumab. Last week, Novartis released a heart failure drug called LCZ696, along with the data behind their highly successful Phase III trial. Novartis is hopeful, … Read More

Playing Detective With Checkpoint Therapies

Emily BurkeCancer, Clinical Trials, Cocktail Fodder, Drug Development, Drug Targets, HIV, Mechanism of Action, Term of the Week, The WEEKLY

PLAYING DETECTIVE WITH CHECKPOINT THERAPIES Over the past two weeks, we have discussed cancer immunotherapies that involve training T-cells (the detective warriors of our immune system) into seeking and destroying cancer cells. This week, we will take a look into another approach that has been creating a lot of recent excitement: checkpoint inhibitor drugs. Simply put, investigators believe they have … Read More