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Concept: Pharmacology

1430

Medicinal plants have historically proven their value as a source of molecules with therapeutic potential, and nowadays still represent an important pool for the identification of novel drug leads. In the past decades, pharmaceutical industry focused mainly on libraries of synthetic compounds as drug discovery source. They are comparably easy to produce and resupply, and demonstrate good compatibility with established high throughput screening (HTS) platforms. However, at the same time there has been a declining trend in the number of new drugs reaching the market, raising renewed scientific interest in drug discovery from natural sources, despite of its known challenges. In this survey, a brief outline of historical development is provided together with a comprehensive overview of used approaches and recent developments relevant to plant-derived natural product drug discovery. Associated challenges and major strengths of natural product-based drug discovery are critically discussed. A snapshot of the advanced plant-derived natural products that are currently in actively recruiting clinical trials is also presented. Importantly, the transition of a natural compound from a “screening hit” through a “drug lead” to a “marketed drug” is associated with increasingly challenging demands for compound amount, which often cannot be met by re-isolation from the respective plant sources. In this regard, existing alternatives for resupply are also discussed, including different biotechnology approaches and total organic synthesis. While the intrinsic complexity of natural product-based drug discovery necessitates highly integrated interdisciplinary approaches, the reviewed scientific developments, recent technological advances, and research trends clearly indicate that natural products will be among the most important sources of new drugs also in the future.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Drug discovery, Medicinal chemistry, Natural product, High-throughput screening, Natural products

575

Objective To determine the availability of data on overall survival and quality of life benefits of cancer drugs approved in Europe.Design Retrospective cohort study.Setting Publicly accessible regulatory and scientific reports on cancer approvals by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from 2009 to 2013.Main outcome measures Pivotal and postmarketing trials of cancer drugs according to their design features (randomisation, crossover, blinding), comparators, and endpoints. Availability and magnitude of benefit on overall survival or quality of life determined at time of approval and after market entry. Validated European Society for Medical Oncology Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (ESMO-MCBS) used to assess the clinical value of the reported gains in published studies of cancer drugs.Results From 2009 to 2013, the EMA approved the use of 48 cancer drugs for 68 indications. Of these, eight indications (12%) were approved on the basis of a single arm study. At the time of market approval, there was significant prolongation of survival in 24 of the 68 (35%). The magnitude of the benefit on overall survival ranged from 1.0 to 5.8 months (median 2.7 months). At the time of market approval, there was an improvement in quality of life in seven of 68 indications (10%). Out of 44 indications for which there was no evidence of a survival gain at the time of market authorisation, in the subsequent postmarketing period there was evidence for extension of life in three (7%) and reported benefit on quality of life in five (11%). Of the 68 cancer indications with EMA approval, and with a median of 5.4 years' follow-up (minimum 3.3 years, maximum 8.1 years), only 35 (51%) had shown a significant improvement in survival or quality of life, while 33 (49%) remained uncertain. Of 23 indications associated with a survival benefit that could be scored with the ESMO-MCBS tool, the benefit was judged to be clinically meaningful in less than half (11/23, 48%).Conclusions This systematic evaluation of oncology approvals by the EMA in 2009-13 shows that most drugs entered the market without evidence of benefit on survival or quality of life. At a minimum of 3.3 years after market entry, there was still no conclusive evidence that these drugs either extended or improved life for most cancer indications. When there were survival gains over existing treatment options or placebo, they were often marginal.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Cohort study, Clinical trial, Cancer, Oncology, Evaluation, Chemotherapy, Palliative care

450

Previous estimates of drug development success rates rely on relatively small samples from databases curated by the pharmaceutical industry and are subject to potential selection biases. Using a sample of 406 038 entries of clinical trial data for over 21 143 compounds from January 1, 2000 to October 31, 2015, we estimate aggregate clinical trial success rates and durations. We also compute disaggregated estimates across several trial features including disease type, clinical phase, industry or academic sponsor, biomarker presence, lead indication status, and time. In several cases, our results differ significantly in detail from widely cited statistics. For example, oncology has a 3.4% success rate in our sample vs. 5.1% in prior studies. However, after declining to 1.7% in 2012, this rate has improved to 2.5% and 8.3% in 2014 and 2015, respectively. In addition, trials that use biomarkers in patient-selection have higher overall success probabilities than trials without biomarkers.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Statistics, Estimator, ClinicalTrials.gov, Pharmaceutical industry, Drug discovery, Drug development

414

The inability of current recommendations to control the epidemic of diabetes, the specific failure of the prevailing low-fat diets to improve obesity, cardiovascular risk, or general health and the persistent reports of some serious side effects of commonly prescribed diabetic medications, in combination with the continued success of low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome without significant side effects, point to the need for a reappraisal of dietary guidelines. The benefits of carbohydrate restriction in diabetes are immediate and well documented. Concerns about the efficacy and safety are long term and conjectural rather than data driven. Dietary carbohydrate restriction reliably reduces high blood glucose, does not require weight loss (although is still best for weight loss), and leads to the reduction or elimination of medication. It has never shown side effects comparable with those seen in many drugs. Here we present 12 points of evidence supporting the use of low-carbohydrate diets as the first approach to treating type 2 diabetes and as the most effective adjunct to pharmacology in type 1. They represent the best-documented, least controversial results. The insistence on long-term randomized controlled trials as the only kind of data that will be accepted is without precedent in science. The seriousness of diabetes requires that we evaluate all of the evidence that is available. The 12 points are sufficiently compelling that we feel that the burden of proof rests with those who are opposed.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Nutrition, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus, The Canon of Medicine, Obesity, Randomized controlled trial, Carbohydrate

302

Curcumin is a constituent (up to ∼5%) of the traditional medicine known as turmeric. Interest in the therapeutic use of turmeric and the relative ease of isolation of curcuminoids has led to their extensive investigation. Curcumin has recently been classified as both a PAINS (pan-assay interference compounds) and an IMPS (invalid metabolic panaceas) candidate. The likely false activity of curcumin in vitro and in vivo has resulted in >120 clinical trials of curcuminoids against several diseases. No double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial of curcumin has been successful. This manuscript reviews the essential medicinal chemistry of curcumin and provides evidence that curcumin is an unstable, reactive, nonbioavailable compound and, therefore, a highly improbable lead. On the basis of this in-depth evaluation, potential new directions for research on curcuminoids are discussed.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Pharmacology, Medicine, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna, Clinical research

290

To assess the number of parents who visited community pharmacies in London seeking pain medications for their children’s pain and specifically for oral pain, to identify which health services parents contacted before their pharmacy visit and to estimate the cost to the National Health Service (NHS) when children with oral pain who visit pharmacies also see health professionals outside dentistry.

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Medicine, Health, National Health Service, Pharmacy, Health science, Massachusetts

280

The divine tree neem (Azadirachta indica) is mainly cultivated in the Indian subcontinent. Neem has been used extensively by humankind to treat various ailments before the availability of written records which recorded the beginning of history. The world health organization estimates that 80% of the population living in the developing countries relies exclusively on traditional medicine for their primary health care. More than half of the world’s population still relies entirely on plants for medicines, and plants supply the active ingredients of most traditional medical products. The review shows the neem has been used by humankind to treat various ailments from prehistory to contemporary.

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Medicine, Health, Ayurveda, Pharmaceutical drug, India, Health science

273

Options for leveraging available telemedicine technologies, ranging from simple webcams and telephones to smartphone apps and medical-grade wearable sensors, are evolving faster than the culture of clinical research. Until recently, most clinical trials relied on paper-based processes and technology. This cost- and labor-intensive system, while slowly changing, remains an obstacle to new drug development. Alternatives that use existing tools and processes for collecting real-world data in home settings warrant closer examination.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Medical statistics, Avicenna, Pharmaceutical industry, Clinical research, Drug discovery, Drug development

262

Each novel vaccine candidate needs to be evaluated for safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy in humans before it is licensed for use. After initial safety evaluation in healthy adults, each vaccine candidate follows a unique development path. This article on clinical development gives an overview on the development path based on the expectations of various guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). The manuscript describes the objectives, study populations, study designs, study site, and outcome(s) of each phase (Phase I-III) of a clinical trial. Examples from the clinical development of a malaria vaccine candidate, a rotavirus vaccine, and two vaccines approved for human papillomavirus (HPV) have also been discussed. The article also tabulates relevant guidelines, which can be referred to while drafting the development path of a novel vaccine candidate.

Concepts: Immune system, Pharmacology, Clinical trial, HPV vaccine, Malaria, United States, World Health Organization, Food and Drug Administration

258

Background: The demand for clinically efficacious, safe, patient acceptable, and cost-effective forms of treatment for mental illness is growing. Several studies have demonstrated benefit from yoga in specific psychiatric symptoms and a general sense of well-being.Objective: To systematically examine the evidence for efficacy of yoga in the treatment of selected major psychiatric disorders.Methods: Electronic searches of The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the standard bibliographic databases, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO, were performed through April 2011 and an updated in June 2011 using the keywords yoga AND psychiatry OR depression OR anxiety OR schizophrenia OR cognition OR memory OR attention AND randomized controlled trial (RCT). Studies with yoga as the independent variable and one of the above mentioned terms as the dependent variable were included and exclusion criteria were applied.Results: The search yielded a total of 124 trials, of which 16 met rigorous criteria for the final review. Grade B evidence supporting a potential acute benefit for yoga exists in depression (four RCTs), as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy in schizophrenia (three RCTs), in children with ADHD (two RCTs), and Grade C evidence in sleep complaints (three RCTs). RCTs in cognitive disorders and eating disorders yielded conflicting results. No studies looked at primary prevention, relapse prevention, or comparative effectiveness versus pharmacotherapy.Conclusion: There is emerging evidence from randomized trials to support popular beliefs about yoga for depression, sleep disorders, and as an augmentation therapy. Limitations of literature include inability to do double-blind studies, multiplicity of comparisons within small studies, and lack of replication. Biomarker and neuroimaging studies, those comparing yoga with standard pharmaco- and psychotherapies, and studies of long-term efficacy are needed to fully translate the promise of yoga for enhancing mental health.

Concepts: Psychology, Pharmacology, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Mental health, Clinical research, Mental disorder, Psychiatry