Entries in Drug discovery (2)


A new horizon.. a new hope for cancer patients!

We have been talking about fighting cancer for so many years and I remember listening to my mentor tell me that while 2015 is unrealistic for cancer cure, 2025 is probably going to see great leap in the field of cancer cure.

As I read more and more about immunotherapy and novel drug delivery modules I am beginning to think this might be a reality sooner then 2025.

 G. Szeto, Adelaide Tovar, Jeff Wyckoff/MIT, Wellcome Images (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

This amazing image is a testament to one such drug delivery module. MIT based team of scientists have designed a polymer capsule that can be used for targeted therapy. I know as soon as you hear the word polymer you think well but a polymer could have its own gamete of problems, scientists are ahead of the game, the polymer is bio-degradable and dissolves quickly to release the drug.

While this testing currently is only in animal models and it needs to be refined to get access to deeper tissues, it is a step towards the goal, I might even say a leap towards the goal.

When I see an image like this, I don't just see science, I see Art, I see hope and the peak of human ability.

And then I wish why can't we use the same will to fight for peace, what if we eliminate all war and work towards creating a world free of diseases. What if we fought for not just us but for other species to have harmonious life.

And then I wish for my wish to come true.


Best from Waste


I remember in school we had annual projects called “Best from waste”. We had to come up with something useful from well, basically what was considered waste. We made toy trains out of toothpaste boxes, dolls out of ice-cream sticks, you get the point! The reason I am talking about it is a group of scientists took this idea rather seriously. They went digging through the dirt to get life saving molecules.

Ever heard folklore’s of some spring or a river having magical healing properties? Those might not be just folklores! A research group at Rockefeller university or should I say my work neighbors, collected 185 samples from beaches, forests, deserts, hot springs, city parks and other natural environments. What they found was nothing short of miraculous. They found bacteria that secrete antibiotic like compounds or have genes that could produce antibiotic like compounds. These compounds have anti bacterial and even anti cancer properties.

I guess the story of Lord Hanuman finding medicine to revive Lakshmana from a mountaintop might not be a myth after all. Nature harbors all the answers, all it takes is looking. Maybe there are more benefits in taking vacations in nature’s abode then we give credit for.

That brings me to a bigger concern though! A terrible virus called greed infects humans; yes it seems worse then Ebola or HIV.

Now that there is something to gain from natural resources that were not tampered until now; these will get exploited for seeking answers to our well-being. What happens next could save us or be our doom. First, it will be scientists getting interested in these resources, rather soon pharmaceutical industry will get interested. Then there will be profits to be made and, higher the gain more the tampering of these natural environments. We will deplete these resources and destroy the delicate balance responsible for our answers before we know it.

Or we can get a wake up call and realize that nature holds answers to our worse problems and work towards conserving and expanding what little we have left. Today the rates of cancer related deaths, heart problems, obesity related issues, and myriad of other health problems are higher then ever before. Reason? Our life style, the air we breathe in, the pots we cook in, appliances we nuke our food in, I can go on! We are creating the next generation of bugs, poisons and diseases.

Would it not be smart to take a step back and reassess our choices? Perhaps we might not even need antibiotics stronger then Rifamycin to cure TB. Perhaps we might take a hard look at mistakes we have made, or are making and learn from them. Perhaps more of us would install solar panels, more of us would recycle, and more of us would work towards reducing our carbon footprint. Maybe we would plant more trees and use less plastic. Perhaps we might just see that our way to healthy and happy life is a much less traveled road, the one to the woods.