Breakthrough Brain and Muscle Rejuvenating Drug?

ageing

This is early phase research, but Researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered a drug that rejuvenates old stems in the brains and muscles of mice.

You can read about this on Science Alert: Scientists have identified a drug that rejuvenates ageing muscle and brain tissue

Or the UC Berkeley Press release: Drug perks up old muscles and aging brains

Or from the journal article itself in Oncotarget: Systemic attenuation of the TGF-β pathway by a single drug simultaneously rejuvenates hippocampal neurogenesis and myogenesis in the same old mammal

From the press release:

We established that you can use a single small molecule to rescue essential function in not only aged brain tissue but aged muscle,” said co-author David Schaffer, director of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center and a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “That is good news, because if every tissue had a different molecular mechanism for aging, we wouldn’t be able to have a single intervention that rescues the function of multiple tissues.

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BBC Article on Herbal Remedies in Antigua

Antigua is an island in the West Indies in the Caribbean region. The BBC article is titled Chikungunya revives herbal remedies in Antigua.  The chikungunya virus results from mosquito bites and there is no known cure.

Several of the herbs referenced in this article are quite well known like neem, dandelion, Echinacea and burdock.

Sadly but not unpredictably, the local medical doctor who was consulted with is clearly not familiar with the traditional systems of healing: “Herbalism is not proven so I couldn’t recommend it.”

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New Virus: The Bourbon Virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a new article about the Bourbon virus.

Only one case has been confirmed (in Kansas).  The disease is thought to be transmitted to humans by ticks or possibly other insects and it has likely been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in the past.

There is also an ahead of print article pertaining to this in Emerging Infection Diseases titled Novel Thogotovirus Species Associated with Febrile Illness and Death, United States, 2014.

From the abstract to this article:

A previously healthy man from eastern Kansas, USA, sought medical care in late spring because of a history of tick bite, fever, and fatigue. The patient had thrombocytopenia and leukopenia and was given doxycycline for a presumed tickborne illness. His condition did not improve. Multiorgan failure developed, and he died 11 days after illness onset from cardiopulmonary arrest. Molecular and serologic testing results for known tickborne pathogens were negative. However, testing of a specimen for antibodies against Heartland virus by using plaque reduction neutralization indicated the presence of another virus. Next-generation sequencing and phylogenetic analysis identified the virus as a novel member of the genus Thogotovirus.

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Problems at the FDA

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) summarizes their purpose on their website as “Protecting and Promoting Your Health”.  In addition to protecting the public they serve health professionals, researchers, and industry.  One of the main responsibilities of the FDA is listed as: “ensuring that human and veterinary drugs, and vaccines and other biological products and medical devices intended for human use are safe and effective”.

Given this vital role, there has been much concern over Charles Seife’s February 9, 2015 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, titled Research Misconduct Identified by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The conclusion of this article states: “When the FDA finds significant departures from good clinical practice, those findings are seldom reflected in the peer-reviewed literature, even when there is evidence of data fabrication or other forms of research misconduct”.  But the impact is better stated in the author’s article at the Slate where he states:

It’s not just the public that’s in the dark. It’s researchers, too. And your doctor. As I describe in the current issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, my students and I were able to track down some 78 scientific publications resulting from a tainted study—a clinical trial in which FDA inspectors found significant problems with the conduct of the trial, up to and including fraud. In only three cases did we find any hint in the peer-reviewed literature of problems found by the FDA inspection. The other publications were not retracted, corrected, or highlighted in any way. In other words, the FDA knows about dozens of scientific papers floating about whose data are questionable—and has said nothing, leaving physicians and medical researchers completely unaware. The silence is unbroken even when the FDA itself seems shocked at the degree of fraud and misconduct in a clinical trial.

Sources and further reading:

Slate: Are Your Medications Safe?

io9: The FDA Is Hiding Scientific Fraud, And You Should Be Pissed

JAMA Internal Medicine: Research Misconduct Identified by the US Food and Drug Administration

Science Alert: The FDA is covering up scientific misconduct, an investigation has found

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