Pharmacology

Afatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, significantly improved progression-free survival compared to methotrexate in patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck after failure of platinum-based chemotherapy, the results of a phase III trial presented at the ESMO 2014 Congress in Madrid show.

The Lux-Head&Neck 1 trial showed that patients who received treatment with 40 mg/day oral afatinib had a 20% reduction in risk of progression or death compared to patients who received methotrexate, with a median progression-free survival of 2.6 months. 


By:  Karin Heineman, Inside Science

(Inside Science TV) – Dogs and cats can suffer from some of the same illnesses as humans such as allergies, cancer and even Alzheimer's disease. Currently pets are often given drugs designed for the human body that may not work the same way in the body of another species.

For example, dogs with allergies are often prescribed the popular allergy drug Allegra. But, the formula was not designed for use by a dog and may not work correctly.

Now, researchers at Kindred Biosciences in Burlingam, California are developing new drugs made just for pets.

Even a single dose of  the commonly prescribed antidepressant SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) is enough to produce dramatic changes in the functional architecture of the human brain. Brain scans taken of people before and after an acute dose of SSRI reveal changes in connectivity within three hours, according to results in Current Biology.


Between 2006 and 2011, high-dose opioid prescribing in Canada increased by 23 percent despite clinical guidelines recommending that most patients should avoid high-doses of these drugs, according to new research. 

Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) found that rates of high-dose opioid dispensing across Canada increased from 781 units per 1,000 people in 2006 to 961 units per 1,000 people in 2011.


We inherit certain traits that are predetermined but the field of epigenetics postulates that we might be able to change genes play by taking certain drugs or changing diets.  


Recently a study was published in the Milbank Quarterly analyzing the voting patterns of FDA Advisory Committee members with apparent conflicts of interest.

A protein called Nrf2,continually moves in and out of the nuclei of human cells to sense the cell's health and vitality and when Nrf2 is exposed to threats to the cell's health, it oscillates faster and activates an increase in the cell's defense mechanism, including raising the levels of antioxidants.


Generic drugs and biosimilar drugs are conceptually equivalent, though a biosimilar drug is not a generic drug.

Generics drugs are equivalent copycats - exact copies of molecules that were developed at great cost by companies that are now outside the patent window. Biosimilars are instead copies of molecules of a protein nature involving biological processes and materials, like cell culture or the extraction of products using living organisms, which is why there is no product that is exactly the same as the other. Basically, that is why the name 'biosimilar' exists, because unlike generics they are not 'bioequivalent' to the drugs that have survived rigorous testing and approval. 


Treatment with xenon gas reduces the extent of brain damage after a head injury reduces the extent of brain damage, according to a new study.

Head injury is the leading cause of death and disability in people under 45 in developed countries - due primarily to falls and road accidents. The primary injury caused by the initial mechanical force is followed by a secondary injury which develops in the hours and days afterwards. This secondary injury is largely responsible for patients' mental and physical disabilities, but there are currently no drug treatments that can be given after the accident to stop it from occurring.


A team of researchers have evaluated mepolizumab, a new antibody-based drug for certain patients with severe asthma, and found it can replace traditional, steroid-based treatments for a specific subset of patients, resulting in improved outcomes and reduced side effects.

Patients with severe asthma often require high doses of steroid-based treatments that can significantly impair their quality of life.

These high doses can cause debilitating side effects including mood swings, diabetes, bone loss, skin bruising, cataracts and hypertension.
Previous research at the Hamilton institutions has identified specific types of patient with severe asthma have an overabundance of a particular type of white blood cell (eosinophils) present in their sputum.