Pharmacology


Structure of Bisphenol A. Credit: Ian Musgrave

By Ian Musgrave

Bisphenol A is in the news again. A paper just published in the Public Library of Science with the alarming title of “Holding Thermal Receipt Paper and Eating Food after Using Hand Sanitizer Results in High Serum Bioactive and Urine Total Levels of Bisphenol A (BPA)” is bound to ratchet up anxiety levels about this chemical yet again.


Human volunteers for Ebola vaccine. Image:niaid

By Connor Bamford, University of Glasgow

The world has been warned that the current Ebola epidemic may not end without the use of a vaccine – and no licensed vaccines exist yet. That may soon change, because scientists are making swift progress.

Unusual and severe impulse control disorders, including pathological gambling, hypersexuality and compulsive shopping, have been reported in patients taking dopamine receptor agonist drugs. Dopamine receptor agonist drugs, which activate the dopamine receptors, are commonly prescribed and there were 2.1 million dispensed outpatient prescriptions in the fourth quarter of 2012.

To find answers, the authors analyzed adverse drug event reports for six dopamine receptor agonist drugs marketed in the U.S. Their analysis was based on 2.7 million domestic and foreign adverse drug event reports from 2003 to 2012 pulled from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Adverse Event Reporting System database.


Morphine was the first active drug molecule extracted from a plant as well as the first to have analogues prepared from it.  The following is a discussion of the history of heroin from Dr. Walter Sneader’s book Drug Discovery: A History. 

Anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, estrogen, and Fluimucil can improve the efficacy of existing schizophrenia treatments, according to results announced at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference in Berlin.

Doctors have long believed that helping the immune system may benefit the treatment of schizophrenia, but until now there has been no conclusive evidence that this would be effective. Now a group of researchers at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands has carried out a comprehensive meta-analysis of all robust studies on the effects of adding anti-inflammatories to antipsychotic medication. They conclude that anti-inflammatory medicines, such as aspirin, can add to the effective treatment of schizophrenia. 


Long-term daily use of Viagra can provide protection for the heart at different stages of heart disease, with few side effects, according to a new meta-analysis published in BMC Medicine

Scientists from the Sapienza University of Rome carried out a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by searching for articles published between January 2004 and May 2014 to deduce the effectiveness of  Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor
(PDE5i) in providing cardiac protection, and to find out whether it was well-tolerated and safe. They identified 24 suitable trials for analysis from four research databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library and SCOPUS. The trials involved 1622 patients from mixed populations who were treated with PDE5i or a placebo. 


Computer simulations show how bacteria are able to destroy antibiotics, focusing on the role of enzymes in the bacteria which split the structure of the antibiotic and stop it working, making the bacteria resistant. 

The new findings show that it's possible to test how enzymes react to certain antibiotics and thus design new antibiotics with a much lower risk of resistance, and even to choose the best medicines for specific outbreaks.

Using QM/MM - quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics simulations – the research team were able to gain a molecular-level insight into how enzymes called 'beta-lactamases' react to antibiotics.


Canada, which has roughly 1,500 vials of an ebola vaccine called VSV-EBOV, has offered 1,000 vials to the World Health Organization and said the rest would be used for upcoming clinical trials in 5 locations: two in the United States, and one each in Germany, Switzerland and a non-Western-African country that isn't battling ebola.  

Young mice with the rodent equivalent of a rare autism spectrum disorder (ASD) called Rett syndrome that were fed a diet supplemented with the synthetic oil triheptanoin had physical and behavioral symptoms that were less severe after being on the diet - and they lived longer than mice on regular diets.

Researchers involved in the study think that triheptanoin improved the functioning of mitochondria, energy factories common to all cells. Since mitochondrial defects are seen in other ASDs, the researchers say, the experimental results offer hope that the oil could help not just people with Rett syndrome, but also patients with other, more common ASDs.


Alerted by an announcement in several British newspapers, for example Honeysuckle tea could fight flu, Boiling honeysuckle releases molecule which can help fight influenza virus, study suggests, I started digging deeper.  Although it has not yet appeared in the literature, I did find the following EurekaAlert: