No More Eye Drops? New Contact Lens Delivers Glaucoma Meds

Like a miniature donut stuffed inside a tiny pita pocket, a common glaucoma medicine is sandwiched inside this specially designed contact lens. In laboratory experiments, the lens, which can also correct vision, releases the eyesight-saving medication at a steady rate for up to a month. Its construction offers numerous potential clinical advantages over the standard glaucoma treatment and may have additional applications, such as delivering anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics to the eye.

Glaucoma is a group of conditions that can result in irreversible blindness. This vision loss can be reduced if glaucoma is found and treated early, most commonly with eye drops to lower pressure within the eye. But using eye drops regularly can be a challenge. And while the drops can minimize further vision loss, they don’t repair vision that’s already lost.

People using traditional eye drops for glaucoma “aren’t getting any symptomatic relief, and they’re not seeing better, so there’s not a lot of motivation to be compliant with the medication,” said Joseph Ciolino, an ophthalmologist who, along with his mentor Daniel Kohane, developed the new contact lens at Harvard Medical School.

Source: Daily me

Prawns Show Promise in parasite Control


Reintroducing prawns to lakes and rivers in which they have been partially or fully lost may be a sustainable way of controlling the parasitic disease schistosomiasis, which kills more than 200,000 people every year in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, says a study.

Researchers have found some native prawns to be voracious predators of the freshwater snails that transmit schistosomiasis parasites and so could be used as a biological control, they report in a study in press in Acta Tropica.

Field tests are under way in Senegal, and researchers suggest that farming the edible prawns could help local populations cut disease while also providing an additional source of income.

“Prawns may offer a simple and affordable transmission control solution in rural poor communities where few alternatives exist and drug treatment is failing to achieve long-term disease reductions,” the study says.

People get infected from contact with water containing schistosomiasis parasites, which are released by infected snails.

Although people who carry schistosomiasis can be treated with the drug praziquantel, reinfection from fresh exposure to infested waters hampers disease control and eradication.

In laboratory experiments, researchers based in the United States set out to measure the rate at which prawns eat uninfected snails. They found that they consume an average of 12 per cent of their body weight in snails each day.

The researchers also found that young prawns that are still growing are more efficient at controlling snail numbers than large, fully-grown prawns. The larger prawns ate more snails but the smaller ones were more efficient as they ate more snails per gram of body weight and fed on snail eggs and hatchlings, too, the study shows.

These results support the idea of the aquaculture of native prawns, and their reintroduction to freshwater bodies where their numbers have fallen, the authors say.

When prawns are too small to be sold at market they are “high-efficiency snail killers”, says Susanne H. Sokolow, lead author of the study and a researcher at Stanford University in California. “When they grow and their efficiency declines, we can harvest them.”

Source: All Africa


Biocon to start selling breast cancer drug in India in February

Biocon Ltd said its generic version of Roche’s Herceptin breast cancer treatment would be available to patients in India from the first week of February.

Bangalore-based Biocon jointly developed biosimilar trastuzumab, which received the Indian drug regulator’s marketing approval in November, with U.S.-based Mylan Inc.

About 150,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in India, of which 25 percent are eligible for treatment with trastuzumab, Biocon said.

Roche decided not to pursue a patent application for its breast cancer drug Herceptin in India, paving the way for generic drugmakers to produce cheaper copies, known as biosimilars because they are not identical to the original drug.

Global sales for Herceptin were valued at about $6.4 billion in 2012, including about $21 million in India, Biocon said.

Source: Reuters

Tulsi enters US lab to fight cancer

The ubiquitous tulsi in your backyard may be a potent weapon against all kinds of cancer, so believes a team of researchers led by an Indian-origin scientist.

Tulsi or basil has eugenol that helps fight cancer. Now the research team is genetically modifying tulsi in the lab to produce the anti-cancerous compound in abundance.

“When you grind basil leaves, a compound called eugenol comes out. If I could make it produce eugenol in higher amounts, that basil plant would serve as a storehouse of that anti-cancerous compound,” said Chandrakanth Emani, assistant professor of plant molecular biology at Western Kentucky University-Owensboro (WKU-O) in the US.

In his lab at the Owensboro facility, Emani and his students are genetically engineering the basil to produce more eugenol, a compound in basil that, in his words, “has a very great pharmaceutical value because it’s shown to control breast cancer”.

“Eugenol, when they put it on a plate where there are tumour cells, it stopped growth of the tumour cells. That was a proof of concept experiment which was done a long time back,” said Emani, in a press release issued by the university.

The next phase in the research project would be to test the compound as an effective cancer treatment.

“We want to deal with treating cancer in a holistic way. We want to find one treatment that takes care of many cancers,” Emani added.

Tulsi’s therapeutic properties have been discussed at great length in ancient ayurveda texts in India.

Emani, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in India, has been at WKU-Owensboro since 2010.

Source: Business standard

New device may put DNA testing in doctors’ hands


It can take days for doctors to determine if a patient infected with malaria carries a drug-resistant version of the disease. The same is true of tuberculosis.

But a new testing device could reduce that time lag to 15 minutes, potentially helping to ensure that patients are correctly treated right away, says the company developing this device.

United Kingdom company QuantuMDX now has a working prototype for a device intended to quickly test a sample of blood, sputum (saliva mixed with mucus) or even tumor cells for genetic markers that provide information to guide a doctor’s decisions on how to treat a patient.

“We want to put a full diagnostic test into the palms of health professionals’ hands,” said Elaine Warburton, chief executive officer of QuantuMDX and the companys cofounder.

The prototype is about the size of an iPad 5, or 6.6 by 9.4 inches (17 by 24 centimeters), but thicker. In about six months, Warburton said she anticipates the device will be reduced to about the size of an iPad mini, 5.3 by 7.9 in. (13 by 200 cm).

The device, currently known as Q-POC (pronounced Q-pock), is still a long way from being used in the clinic. The company still has work to do on the cartridges for use with the handheld prototype, and it needs to run clinical trials testing the device, followed by regulatory approval from bodies such as FDA, Warburton told LiveScience in an email.

Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jonathan O’Halloran, inventor of the technology and the company’s cofounder, announced plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign is expected to begin on Feb. 12 on the site, to support further development of the Q-POC. The company is also interested in suggestions for a new name and design for the device, Warburton said.

If all goes well, QuantuMDX anticipates commercially launching the device and malaria test cartridge in Africa in 2015, she said.

Source: Fox news

Traditional Chinese medicine may reduce risk of diabetes

Diabetes Definition

New research shows Chinese herbal medicine may hold promising solutions for people with pre-diabetes, reports a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

A prediabetes diagnosis indicates that an individual has elevated blood sugar levels, but his or her glucose levels are not high enough to have developed Type 2 diabetes.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) focuses on establishing balance in the body in order to treat disease, according to study author Dr. Chun-Su Yuan, director of the Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research at the University of Chicago.

“It’s a more holistic approach, using medicine to change the overall body function instead of very specifically on symptoms and organs [like Western medicine],” Yuan, who is also the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, told

For this study, researchers combined TCM’s traditional principles with modern medicine by identifying herbs that have proven effective in treating people with diabetes.

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, 389 participants with impaired glucose tolerance (a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes) were tested every three months to monitor whether they had developed diabetes – or if they had experienced a restoration of normal glucose tolerance (NGT), meaning they were no longer at risk for diabetes.

Half of the participants were treated with a Chinese herbal mixture called Tianqi. Tianqi is a capsule containing 10 Chinese herbal medicines including Astragali Radix and Coptidis Rhizoma, which have been previously shown to improve glucose levels. All subjects received dietary education and were advised to maintain their usual physical fitness routines.

Overall, the study found that Tianqi appeared to reduce the risk of diabetes among study participants by 32.1 percent, compared to the placebo group. At the end of the study, 125 subjects (63.13 percent) in the Tianqi group had achieved normal glucose tolerance, compared to only 89 (46.6 percent) in the placebo group. Among the participants who went on to develop diabetes, 56 subjects (29.32 percent) were in the placebo group, compared to only 36 (18.18 percent) in the Tianqi group.

There were no reported severe adverse side effects from Tianqi.

“We are excited about this,” Yuan said. “It’s an advantage that we did not observe bad side effects.”

Furthermore, researchers believe Chinese medicine may be almost as effective as Western drugs used to tread diabetes.

“The data from our study showed that Chinese medicine has comparable effects ,” Yuan said.

However, Yuan noted that because the study was conducted in China, further research may be needed in order to prove the effectiveness of Tianqi for patients in other countries. Future research will also need to focus on quality control issues surrounding the use of herbal medicines in clinical studies, Yuan said.

“It’s not easy to do controlled trials of herbal medicine and this study did it and showed promising effects,” Yuan said. “But we need to do more studies with the possibility that in five to seven years TCM has better utility in the U.S.”

Source: Fox News



FDA approves diabetes pill that eliminates excess sugar through urine

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a new diabetes drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca that uses a novel approach to reduce blood sugar.

Farxiga is a once-a-day tablet designed to help diabetes patients eliminate excess sugar via their urine. That differs from older drugs that decrease the amount of sugar absorbed from food and stored in the liver.

The drug is the second product approved in the U.S. from the new class of medicines known as SGLT2 drugs. In March the FDA approved Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana, which also works by eliminating excess sugar through patients’ urine.

The agency cleared Farxiga tablets for patients with type 2 diabetes, which affects about 24 million people in the U.S. The approval marks a comeback for the drug, which was previously rejected last year after studies raised concerns about links to bladder cancer and liver toxicity.

Ten cases of bladder cancer were found in patients taking the drug in clinical trials, so Farxiga’s label warns against using it in patients with the disease. A panel of FDA advisers last month said that the uptick in cancers was likely a statistical fluke, and not related to the drug. But the FDA is requiring Bristol and AstraZeneca to track rates of bladder cancer in patients enrolled in a long-term follow up study. The companies will also monitor rates of heart disease, a frequent safety issue with newer diabetes medications.

The most common side effects associated with Farxiga included fungal and urinary tract infections. The drug can be used as a stand-alone drug or in combination with other common diabetes treatments, such as insulin and metformin.

People with type 2 diabetes are unable to properly break down carbohydrates, either because their bodies do not produce enough insulin or have become resistant to the hormone, which controls blood sugar levels. Diabetics often require multiple drugs with different mechanisms of action to control their blood sugar levels.

New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and London-based AstraZeneca PLC already co-market the diabetes drug Onglyza, which increases insulin production while reducing glucose production.

Source; Fox bangor

Medical glue ‘can fix broken heart’

A medical superglue has been developed that has the potential to patch heart defects on the operating table or stop bleeding on the battlefield.

The new adhesive may eventually replace stitches and staples in heart, gut and blood vessel surgery, says a US team.

Tests on pigs show it can seal cardiac defects in seconds and withstand the forces inside the heart.

The glue, inspired by the sticking abilities of slugs, could be available for human use in two years.

Skin glue is a special type of medical adhesive used to join the edges of a wound together, while the wound starts to heal.

Medics may use skin glue to close wounds, instead of other methods such as stitches or staples.


However, until now medical glue has not proved strong enough to withstand the forces inside the pumping chambers of the heart or major blood vessels.

Inspired by slugs
The new glue, developed by Harvard Medical School, can provide a waterproof seal that is bonded in a few seconds with a shine of UV light.

Study co-author Prof Jeffrey Karp, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, told. “We have developed a surgical glue that can be used in open and more invasive procedures and seal dynamic tissues such as blood vessels and the heart, as well as the intestines.

“We think that our glue could augment stitches or staples or possibly replace them.

“More importantly, this should open the door to a greater adaptation of minimally invasive procedures.”

The polymer adhesive, which is both blood and water repellent, is inspired by the ability of animals, such as slugs, to cling to surfaces using sticky secretions that work in the wet.

The researchers tested the glue on the hearts of pigs, which resemble human hearts, during surgery, and found that it could effectively repair heart defects in the animals.

They say further studies testing the safety of the glue in humans are needed, but the results suggest the new surgical glue could be used for sealing open wounds quickly in trauma.

Prof Karp said he expected the glue to be available in two to three years, after undergoing human testing.

Dr Sanjay Thakrar from the British Heart Foundation said: “The cardiovascular system is a dynamic environment where there is continuous blood flow and tissue contractions and existing glues often don’t work well in these conditions.

“These researchers seem to have found an innovative way to overcome these issues, which could be especially useful during minimally invasive procedures.”

“As the scientists only measured the effectiveness of the glue over a short time period, it is important to see how the glue performs for longer durations.”

The research is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine

Source: BBC news

Roche ‘brain shuttle’ technology offers Alzheimer’s hope

Roche logo_Reuters.jpg

Swiss drug maker Roche has found an efficient way for complex antibody drugs to reach and penetrate the brain, raising the possibility of more effective treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The innovative brain shuttle technology, which has so far been tested in mice, can cross the blood-brain barrier that has been a key obstacle for researchers working on neurological drugs because it acts as a seal against large molecules such as antibodies.

Alzheimer’s is a fatal brain-wasting disease that affects 44 million people worldwide, with the number set to triple by 2050, campaign group Alzheimer’s Disease International says.

Although there is still no treatment that can effectively modify the disease or slow its progression, a number of companies – including Roche, Eli Lilly, Merck & Co and Johnson & Johnson – are pursuing a variety of approaches to get to the root cause.

It is proving an uphill battle. Over the past 15 years more than 100 experimental Alzheimer’s drugs have failed in tests. Industry analysts believe that the prize for a truly effective drug could be a market worth $10 billion in annual sales.

Roche’s new technology works by hijacking a natural transport mechanism called receptor-mediated transcytosis, which is normally used by the body to transfer proteins inside the brain.

“We have basically designed this module, called shuttle, that binds to this transport mechanism and shuttles a cargo inside the brain,” Luca Santarelli, Roche’s head of neuroscience, ophthalmology and rare diseases, said in a telephone interview.


Results of a study published in the journal Neuron on Wednesday found the technology helped to increase the concentration of antibodies in the brains of mice, reducing the amount of amyloid plaque, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Roche tested a precursor of its experimental Alzheimer’s drug gantenerumab in the pre-clinical trials. The amount of antibody that penetrated the brain increased more than fiftyfold.

Santarelli said that the brain shuttle technology is not limited to the memory-robbing disease and could be applied to other neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease. The drugmaker is in the process of evaluating which therapeutic targets and diseases to prioritize.

Roche has struck a deal with U.S. biotech firm Isis to develop treatments for Huntington’s and aims to engineer a shuttle to increase penetration of drugs into the brain. It is also working on a program with Irish company Prothena in Parkinson’s disease.

Santarelli said that all projects are still in pre-clinical testing and the company needs to undertake a few more steps before it can begin clinical trials.

Turning to Roche’s Alzheimer’s pipeline, he said that its Phase III trial of gantenerumab in patients who have yet to develop dementia is on track, with results expected in the first half of 2016.

Roche has two other drugs in clinical testing, including crenezumab, which has been chosen for a U.S. government-backed trial in a group of Colombians with a genetic mutation that leads to Alzheimer’s in their forties.

Source: health wise daily

New surgical ‘smart patch’ for shoulder injury to be tested

An innovative ‘surgical patch’ that promotes rapid regrowth of tendon tissue could transform the success of shoulder repair operations.

The patch will be used by surgeons to repair torn tendon tissue, and patient trials are expected to begin this year.

Made from a new material developed by a team of surgeons, engineers and biochemists in Oxford, the ‘smart patch’ promotes rapid regrowth of damaged tissue ensuring the injury heals more quickly and more successfully.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Unit and the Medical Research Council.

Andy Carr, an Oxford University Hospitals surgeon and Nuffield Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Oxford, led the development of the patch. It has been designed to repair damage to the rotator cuff, the group of tendons and muscles that controls movement of the shoulder.

More than 10,000 rotator cuff repairs are performed in the UK each year (more than 300,000 are performed in the US), and the group’s own research has shown that between 25% and 50% will fail to heal properly.

‘Around a third of the population will suffer from shoulder pain due to tendon disease at some time in their life, making it the third most common musculoskeletal complaint,’ said Professor Carr of the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences at Oxford University.

‘This type of injury will not kill you but it can seriously affect your quality of life. Patients are often in a lot of pain, with severely restricted movement. In some cases it can affect your livelihood and in older people it can affect independence. This will become more and more of a problem as the population ages and the retirement age is increased.’

Professor Carr said the failure rate of surgery was due to the fact that the body was failing to repair properly after surgery. To improve the outcomes of surgery, the team have designed a material that mimics the normal environment that cells require in order to mount a successful repair.

He added: ‘The key to the new patch is creating a composite of two material layers. One layer is a very fine “nanoscale” synthetic mesh that is recognised by cells and which promotes growth of new tissue. Our patch provides the physical cues needed for normal growth and development.

‘However, because this fine mesh is relatively flimsy, a second woven layer of thicker strands is bonded to it to provide strength. This stronger layer means the scaffold can be sutured in position by a surgeon. It also protects the repair during the six to eight weeks required for tissue healing.’

new shoulder


An additional and important feature is that the scaffold degrades and is absorbed by the body after three to six months, leavin

g no foreign material in the long term.

With an expected price tag of less that £1,500, the new patch could offer effective treatment at a fraction of the cost of alternatives such as the use of stem cells or growth factors. Given the increasing number of operations being carried out, this will be a significant consideration.

Professor Carr said: ‘One of the great strengths here in Oxford is having clinicians, engineers, biochemists and other specialists working together across the partnership between the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. This multidisciplinary approach means that when unsolved clinical problems are identified we can investigate the cause, then develop a solution, before returning to clinic to test if it helps patients. It’s a bedside to bench and back again journey.’

Patient trials of the new patch are set to begin next year. Professor Carr added: ‘If successful, the patch has the potential to be adapted for use in other tissue repair operations such as heart surgery, hernia repair, bladder repair and the treatment of early arthritis.’

Source: University of Oxford