Pharmacology

While the use of IC50’s is a huge problem in the biological sciences, Academia, Industry and Regulatory bodies have good reason to avoid the established field of enzyme kinetics. As I said in the last post, the problem with IC50 values is that they strip away or obscure finer details of molecular interactions producing an artificial wall on the amount of information we can obtain from biological systems.  However, the perception is that modern enzyme kinetic drug studies do not provide a significant improvement in our understanding relative to the increase in resources that are required to do the studies.

Low standards breed poor results.

If surveys are accurate, up to 20 percent of students have taken Modafinil (Provigil), a psychostimulant embraced by "lifehackers" in the naturalistic crowd, to boost their ability to study and improve their chances of exam success. 

It is claimed, mostly by other students and readers of New York Magazine, that Modafinil is a 'smart' drug. Yet that isn't the case. Just like people without celiac disease are actually damaging their health giving up gluten and replacing it with the extra sugar, extra fat, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose and xanthan gum found in gluten-free foods, healthy students who take Modafinil instead find their performance impaired by the drug. 


FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP51) is an Hsp90 co-chaperone and regulator of the glucocorticoid receptor, and consequently of stress physiology. It regulates acute and chronic effects of treatment with antidepressants via autophagic pathways (processes by which cells break down and recycle their components) in mice and is linked to the clinical response to antidepressants in humans, according to a new paper. 


Named after the location of first documented outbreak (Norwalk Ohio in 1968) norovirus, aka the "Stomach Flu," "Winter Vomiting Bug," or the "Cruise Ship Virus" is an evil little demon that spares no one. There are few, if any of us, who haven't experienced its misery; it infects 21 million people annually in the US every year—second only to the common cold. It is the leading cause (up to 80 percent) of gastroenteritis in the western world.   

Will the medicines you take make their way back into your food?  They might, especially of you take your cue from an old Yorkshire song which deals with human recycling in the food chain, via worms and ducks.  Now, research [1] from the university of York (where else?) has studied one step of this process in detail.

Olaparib, an experimental twice-daily oral cancer drug, produces an overall tumor response rate of 26 percent in several advanced cancers associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, according to results of a Phase II study.


Fast testing for bacterial infections may help to reduce excessive antibiotic use, finds a systematic review. When doctors tested for the presence of bacterial infections, they prescribed fewer antibiotics.


Over 200,000 United States troops who fought in the 1990-1991 campaign to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi invaders have been diagnosed with a set of chronic health problems dubbed Gulf War Syndrome. The symptoms range from fatigue, muscle pain and weakness to decreased cognitive function and gastrointestinal and skin problems, even decades after the conflict. 



Chocolate as brain food? Credit: John Loo/Flickr

By Meredith Knight, Genetic Literacy Project

Scanning headlines last week, one may have been persuaded that chocolate consumption preserves and improves memory functions for aging brains. In reality, this news should not inspire the purchase of an extra bag of Halloween candy.