For the first time, the FDA is requesting that a drug maker remove its product from the market for public health reasons. Endo Pharmaceuticals’ Opana ER—an opioid designed to continuously manage moderate to severe pain—has already faced scrutiny for being easy to abuse via snorting. Turns out addicts aren’t too fond of the ‘extended’ aspect of the drug. To combat this, the company added a coating that made the drug harder to crush… so abusers injected it instead. Not only did this reformulation not meet the FDA’s standards of officially being abuse-deterrent, but the rise in injection abuse is also tied to an HIV/Hep C outbreak caused by needle sharing. God save us from people who mean well.
If Neil Armstrong were a scientist, we’re pretty sure he would’ve said that about this breakthrough study. For the first time ever, the spread of the HIV virus was stopped in its tracks in a living animal, including in a humanized model. Kudos to Dr. Wenhui Hu and his team at LKSOM. This was done by using the gene editing technology CRISPR/Cas9. After replicating the findings from their previous proof-of-concept study, the team tested mice infected with EcoHIV (mouse equivalent to human HIV-1) and mice that were engrafted with human immune and T cells (i.e., “humanized”) then HIV-1. In both tests they were able to successfully excise and block further infection. Take that, HIV.
What’s small, lightweight and portable all while being faster and less than a hundredth of the cost of the cheapest centrifuge we could find on Amazon? Meet the ‘Paperfuge.’ It’s 2 grams, can separate plasma from blood in 90 seconds, and costs a paltry 20 cents. All these specifications mean that diagnosing diseases like HIV and malaria in areas that don’t typically have access to clunky, electricity-dependent clinical equipment (see: malaria prevalent areas) is going to be so much easier. The design comes from a group of Stanford University researchers who performed a similar feat in 2012 by creating a paper microscope for 50 cents. Origami? More like ohmygoshi! (Our puns only get worse with every groan from readers.)
GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s ViiV Healthcare announced positive Phase III trial results for its new HIV two-drug regimen, which uses GSK’s dolutegravir and Johnson & Johnson’s rilpivirine. The company wants to change the way the patients have been treated for the past several decades by reducing the number of antiretroviral medications used to control the virus. Now the company has evidence to support this two-drug combo is as effective at suppressing the virus as three- and four-drug combinations. Decreasing the number of medications is a positive too because it lowers the potential for side effects, improves patient compliance and could eventually decrease the cost of care…but not yet, because both drugs for the dual regimen are still under patent protection.