Therapeutic Alchemist

Over on ChemWeb and wearing my Alchemist hat I hear of a discovery that could lead to a new therapeutic target for a whole range of diseases in which the inflammatory response is involved, almost a medical Panacea. An out of this world approach to liquid telescopes could overcome the big obstacle in making such a device useful for astronomy. The protein spike on the surface of the Ebola virus is laid bare by X-ray crystallography and could lead to new treatments for slowing outbreaks. Birds of prey could be the new environmental “canary” when it comes to toxic heavy metal, according to Spanish researchers. Japanese researchers have taken individual rotaxanes for a spin and obtained some dynamic snapshots. Finally, the Michael J Fox Foundation has announced its annual round of funding for Parkinson’s therapeutic lead research.

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One thought on “Therapeutic Alchemist

  1. The piece on cytokine use for atherosclerosis interests me. It seems curious that this has not been considered before. It has long been known that inflammation is a key component of blood vessel disease, and TNF-alpha seems like a no-brainer to try. The problem is-how do you measure the effects of the compounds on athero since it takes so long to see evidence of protection from heart attacks. New imaging techniques can track plaques but data is often ambiguous since plaques are not necessarily predictors of heart attack and stroke.
    I think the hypothesis that cytokines play a role in all diseases is intriguing, since at some point inflammation plays a role in pretty much every pathological process. One issue to contend with could be timing of the anti-cytokine therapy. Inflammation can be a good guy in certain instance, stimulating effective healing. The temporal nature of the cytokine effects may well be key to successful applications outside the currently accepted indications.

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