This is your brain on drugs

Chalk one up for the Canadians, eh. Bob & Doug McKenzie would be so proud. Researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University and the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics recently published, in NeuroImage, a paper that introduces and validates the concept of the personalized Therapeutic Intervention Fingerprint (pTIF), which predicts the effectiveness of potential interventions for controlling a patient’s disease evolution. Think personalized medicine from a brain perspective. Using pTIF subtypes, drugs can be designed for a patient’s unique gene expression profile and phenotypic brain characteristics, which is a major advancement in personalized medicine. For some cool images go here. Their first focus is on Alzheimer’s disease patients. So, don’t be a hoser, stop watching anti-drug commercials, and enjoy the McKenzie’s 12 Days of Christmas song.

This is your dog on drugs

Talk about unintended consequences. With the American public’s increasing acceptance of recreational marijuana use has come an increase in stoned pets. While this jpeg is funny, it’s actually a serious issue for dogs because, according to one veterinarian, they have larger concentrations of cannabinoid receptors than people, making them more sensitive to the effects than either of these two guys. NBC News reports that accidental ingestion of marijuana by pets has increased nearly 550% over the past 6 years alone. Cats are apparently less susceptible than dogs because they’re not as likely to just eat anything in front of them. Besides, cats are pretty chill already. Until they’re not. The moral of the story? Do a better job hiding your weed. Fido’s nose is better than your teenager’s.

Taking too many SmartPills

When InsightCity talks about SmartPills, we’re usually being self-referential, but here’s something more like that stuff from Limitless. A study based on the Global Drug Survey found that 14% of respondents had used stimulants at least once to improve their mental performance in 2017, up from 5% in 2015. Those drugs range from the ADHD medications Adderall and Ritalin, to less legal substances like cocaine. US respondents had the highest use rates at 30%, but European numbers are creeping up as well with countries like the UK going from 5% in 2015 to 23% last year. Those who use these substances report increased focus, wakefulness, and other cognitive enhancements, but as with anything, side effects may vary. Not that we’re endorsing it, but if you’re interested in more ‘nootropics,’ here’s a list.

We want you

DYK that ~86% of clinical trials don’t reach recruitment targets within their specified time periods? Did ya? And, DYK that fewer than 5% of adult cancer patients enroll in cancer clinical trials? If you’re in the clinical development space, this is not news to you and we’re here to tell you that CISCRP is trying to do something about it. Not to be confused with Cocoa Krispies, CISCRP is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 and dedicated to educating the public and patients and to engaging these critical stakeholders as partners in the clinical research process. As part of their marching orders, they have developed a “Medical Heroes Campaign” to re-brand how the public thinks about clinical research and those who volunteer for clinical trials. To see the June supplement in USA Today go here. Remember, no clinical trial volunteers, no new medicines. Mic drop.

Pfizer postpones price hikes

Pfizer announced price increases on about 40 drugs at the beginning of July. But after discussions with President Donald Trump and Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, they’ve decided to cut-it-out. Trump had lambasted drug companies earlier in the week for price increases, noting that other markets like Europe get lower prices. After their meeting, Pfizer decided to roll-back the increases to pre-July figures, “to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system and provide more access for patients.” And they’re leaving the price drops announced at the beginning of the month intact. The hikes aren’t completely gone though, Pfizer’s just holding off until 2019 or until that aforementioned blueprint takes effect. For a (pink) blueprint you don’t have to wait for, click here.

Plaque attack

Treating Alzheimer’s has been a major issue for researchers, considering clinical trials that aim to treat the condition fail at a rate of 99.6 percent. Anything shown to remotely help will lead to big investments, as Biogen and Eisai learned on Thursday when they released positive results on their IND BAN2401. It’s not just a big deal because it could lead to a treatment, but also because it provides evidence we’ve figured out how the condition works. We think Alzheimer’s progresses from amyloid plaque accumulating between neurons, disrupting cell communication. The drug candidate doesn’t clean the plaque up, but it does clean up the cell clusters that form the plaque. Let’s hope this avenue of research provides more answers so we don’t end up spending $1 trillion on the condition by 2050.

Everyone’s getting the short stick

Drug shortages are nothing new, that’s why the FDA updates their list of shortages daily. But things seem a little worse than normal—9 in 10 physicians say their emergency departments lack critical medicines. That includes mainstays like diltiazem (a go-to treatment for hypertension) and morphine. You can blame market forces and manufacturing issues. Most of the drugs in shortage are sterile injectables, which can be difficult to both make and make a profit on. Those low margins can lead to less incentive to maintain the quality of sterile injectable manufacturing facilities as they age, which in turn leads to issues with the quality of the drug products. It’s things like that which can cause cardboard to contaminate batches of “sterile” injectables. If only they had contaminated them with cash instead…

American Society of Plant Biologists

We didn’t make that up, the ASPB is an actual thing. Before you start in with your favorite Little Shop of Horrors plant references, you might want to wait. Some background: montbretin A (MbA), a natural compound with the potential to treat type-2 diabetes, was discovered in the ornamental plant montbretia 10 years ago, but it couldn’t be produced on a large scale until its biosynthesis was understood. Scientists have now discovered genes and enzymes responsible for MbA biosynthesis and demonstrated the potential for metabolic engineering of wild tobacco to produce this promising drug candidate. Seeing that the 2016 global diabetes drugs market was valued at ~$31 billion and is estimated to reach USD ~$45 billion by 2021, the question is, who will license the technology? Our guess, Novo Nordisk.