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Should cholesterol reducing drugs be served with fast food? (Photo: Suat Eman via freedigi...

A study from researchers at Imperial College London seriously suggests that it may be wise for fast food outlets to provide statin drugs free of charge with the condiments, so that customers can neutralize the heart disease dangers of fatty food. Statins are a class of drugs that can reduce the amount of "LDL" cholesterol in the blood. Some data suggests that this reduction is accompanied by a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke.  Read More

Scientists at Brown University have developed a new drug delivery system to safely hold a ...

Many people take pills to help manage or cure serious illness, and some of these life-saving drugs can only be absorbed in very specific parts of the intestine. The problem with oral administration is that pills often don’t dissolve at exactly the right site in the gastrointestinal tract where medicine can be absorbed into the bloodstream. A new drug delivery system developed by scientists at Brown University uses a magnetic gelatin capsule and an external magnet that can precisely sense the force between it and the pill and vary that force, as needed, to hold the pill in place. The team has successfully used the technology with rats and in future it could provide a new way to deliver many drugs to humans, including those with cancer or diabetes.  Read More

Recreational drug usage in the wild: stoned reindeer and junkie monkeys

You don’t need an IQ much larger than your shoe size to realize that humanity is forever questing for an alternative reality. Apart from the behemoth industries peddling legalized drugs (alcohol, tobacco and caffeine), the extraordinary profitability of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and the rapidly growing number of synthetics now constitute the single largest income stream of criminal and terrorist organizations worldwide. Human drug usage began at the dawn of civilization and we may have sought out the first mind-altering substances by watching the behavior of animals which indulged.  Read More

MIT associate professor Sarah O'Connor, right, and graduate student Weerawat Runguphan hav...

Scientists have been engineering new genes into plants for a number of years in an effort to expand on naturally occurring medicinal compounds. Now chemists at MIT have gone one step further, using an approach known as metabolic engineering to alter the series of reactions plants use to build new molecules, thereby enabling them to produce unnatural variants of their usual products.  Read More

A scientific assessment of the harmfulness of the 16 most commonly used drugs

One of the more interesting news items of the last week came from the release of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs’ first piece of research – Drug harms in the UK: a multi-criteria decision analysis. The findings of the committee, based on wide ranging criteria, apply scientific methodology to answering the perpetually vexing question of exactly how much harm certain drugs do to their users and those around them. The table above summarises the findings and the full paper is available free on the web, where you’ll see just how complex the equation actually is. Most interesting of all was that without government meddling and industry lobbying, alcohol was rated more harmful than any other drug, while tobacco (the only other taxed legal drug on the list), is more harmful than cannabis.  Read More

Radio-wave technology used to detect bombs and explosives could be utilized to identify co...

Technology used to detect bombs and explosives could have a beneficial side-effect – identifying counterfeit and substandard drugs, which pose a major threat to public health, particularly in developing countries. Around one percent of drugs in developed countries, and 10 to 30 percent of drugs in developing countries are counterfeit, and the percentage of substandard drugs is thought to be even higher. Swedish and British researchers are developing a cheap, reliable system that uses radio waves to analyze the chemical structure of drugs to identify fakes.  Read More

The skin of certain frogs, including this foothill yellow-legged frog, contain secretions ...

While kissing a frog might not transform him into a handsome prince, his skin might one day save your life. Scientists in Abu Dhabi have discovered a method for using the natural substances found in frog skins to create a powerful new group of antibiotics with potential to fight against drug-resistant infections.  Read More

Researchers liken their breakthrough to a cluster bomb for cancer (Image: KGH and Shutters...

Although chemotherapy is an effective cancer treatment, it’s shotgun approach also damages healthy cells bringing debilitating side effects such as nausea, liver toxicity and a battered immune system. Now a new way to deliver this life-saving therapy to cancer patients by getting straight to the source of the disease has been developed. The researchers responsible for the breakthrough delivery vehicle liken it to a cluster bomb for cancer because of its ability to deliver the drugs directly into cancer cells before releasing its chemotherapeutic payload.  Read More

Dissolving microneedle vaccines: cheaper, less painful, less dangerous and more effective ...

Doctors have been using hypodermic needles for more than 150 years – but syringe vaccinations could be just about to be replaced by a simple patch you can stick on your arm with no medical supervision. The microneedle patches have an array of microscopic needles on them that penetrate the skin just deep enough to dissolve and deliver a vaccine without causing any pain. There's no sharp hazardous waste left over, they're no more expensive than a syringe, and most importantly, tests on mice are showing that microneedle vaccinations are significantly longer-lasting than deeper injections delivered by syringe.  Read More

Printing pills to order will mean safer and faster-acting medicines

Compressed tablets are the most popular dosage form in use today. About two-thirds of all prescriptions are dispensed as solid dosage forms and half of these are compressed tablets. What may surprise many people is that nearly 99.9 percent of most prescription tablets are actually filler. The active ingredient is usually just one thousandth of a pill, so it has to be mixed with other ingredients to make the medicine big enough to pick up and swallow. The second thing that may surprise you is that the underlying production process has remained largely unchanged for over a thousand years ... though quality assurance is a lot better these days. Now researchers are looking at a fundamental shift in methodology which promises to create safer and faster-acting medicines – "printing" pills to order.  Read More

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