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Trending Topics in Pharmaceutical Research

The development of drugs and compounds for the pharmaceutical industry is no simple task. On average, drug development can take 10 years or longer. Multiple pharmaceutical departments are devoted to monitoring each stage of this lengthy process, including the production and analysis of early-stage research. Focusing on the early stages of the research process allows pharmaceutical companies to stay on top of the latest insights regarding their drugs and compounds along with new research on diseases and disorders that require medicinal treatment. To demonstrate the wide variety of novel insights that can be gleaned from research presented at conferences, we’ve pulled five of the top trending pharmaceutical research topics from our platform for the first half of 2019.

Number 5.

Evaluation of BNTC + Oligo-Fucoidan in an Ectopic Colon Cancer Model

Research on the effectiveness of Oligo Fucoidan

This Argentinian study, conducted by Trivillin et al., aimed to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of two procedures operating in unison. The first is a type of radiation therapy, Boronophenylalanine-Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BPA-BNTC), in which tumor cells are injected with a non-radioactive isotope of the element boron before being irradiated, causing selective tumor death. The second therapy was the use of Oligo Fucoidan, a brown seaweed extract that has been shown to have anti-tumor properties. 

To carry out their research, scientists injected laboratory rats with tumor cells before subjecting them to the radiation process. In addition to a control group  undergoing only the BNTC procedure, oral and oral/topical doses of Oligo Fucoidan were administered over the course of 10 to 16 days. 

In their results, the researchers note that the seaweed extract was not toxic to the studied rats and that the oral (as opposed to the oral/topical) protocol increased tumor control. General administration of the extract in both groups significantly increased tumor and blood boron values. Expanding upon these results with further studies opens the door to the use of new compounds in reducing tumor spread.

Number 4.

Meta-analysis of Spontaneous Remission Percentage in Placebo Arm of Biologic Agents in Randomized Controlled Trials for Lupus

Meta analysis on remission rates of Lupus

This meta-analysis, conducted by Poilroux et al. in France, evaluated 24 studies that sought  to evaluate the effectiveness of various drugs and compounds in treating Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, or Lupus). The authors claimed this was necessary because many previous studies and trials have failed to demonstrate a significant difference in outcomes between placebo and treatment groups, with only one drug, belimumab, being approved for the treatment of the disease in Europe, Canada, and the United States. To aid in the efficiency of future medical trials, the authors set out to identify a better estimate of disease response rates to treatment in order to more precisely calculate the number of subjects needed for effective testing. 

According to their meta-analysis, response rates using two different measurement standards, SRI-4 and BILAG, were 39% and 48%, respectively. The authors also found a negative difference in response rate for patients with African origin. These pieces of information may help further studies define appropriate sample size calculations when investigating novel treatments for lupus.

Number 3.

Phase III Study of Comparing Dexamethasone on Day 1 with Day 1-4 with Combined Neurokinin-1 Receptor Antagonist, Palonosetron and Olanzapine in Cisplatin-based Chemotherapy: Spared Trial

Spared trial of dexamethasone in chemotherapy

This study, led by H. Minatogawa in Japan, investigated the potential benefits of not using the anti-nausea drug dexamethasone in the course of high emetic (nausea inducing) chemotherapy. Typically, dexamethasone is administered for several days during the course of chemotherapy in order to prevent nausea and vomiting; however, it also has its own side effects.  

This study compared two groups: one that used dexamethasone only on the first day of a four-day treatment course (the spared group) and one that used the drug on each of the four days. Additionally, both groups were administered an additional suite of anti-emetics, including olanzapine, a novel anti-nausea treatment that was expected to allow dexamethasone to be spared. Although this is an overview of study design as part of an ongoing phase III drug trial and reports no significant findings, this kind of study allows for the comparison and potential improvement of novel palliative care methods.

Number 2.

Epidemiological Aspects of Medical Care Administration for Patients with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders During First Five Years of Onset of Disease in Saint Petersburg (Russia)

Analysis of schizophrenia spectrum disorder treatment in Russia

Sofronov et al.’s study set out to identify the socio-demographic profiles and pharmacoeconomic evaluations of treatments for patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, analyzing over 1500 patients in St. Petersburg, Russia. Through their research, they determined that paranoid schizophrenia and simple schizophrenia are the two most commonly diagnosed forms of schizophrenia spectrum disorders, that 33.8% of patients were unemployed and that 66.4% lived with their parents, among other insights.

Regarding treatment protocols, only 15% of patients had received no form of antipsychotic pharmacotherapy. Of those that had undergone medical treatment regimens, 61.5% took only one medication, the most common of which was risperidone. Ultimately, the authors hope that this data will allow the further development of novel treatment and rehabilitation protocols for individuals suffering from disorders along the schizophrenia spectrum.

Number 1.

Clinically Available Biomarkers as Predictors of Atrial Fibrillation in Patients with Cryptogenic Stroke: The Nordic Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Study (NOR-FIB)

Research on the relationship between cryptogenic stroke and atrial fibrillation

This Norwegian study, from Lambert et al., investigates commonly used cardiovascular as well as novel biomarkers as potential indicators of atrial fibrillation (a kind of irregular heart beat) in patients suffering from cryptogenic stroke (i.e., strokes of unknown origin). The researchers set out to evaluate whether measurable biomarkers could be linked in the presence of atrial fibrillation in the first six months after the incidence of stroke. 

Using implanted heart monitors and periodic blood testing, cardiac and other biomarkers from 40 patients were measured throughout the six month period. The biomarkers measured included troponin I, brain natriuretic peptide, fibrinogen, and d-dimer levels. 

By the end of the study, atrial fibrillation had been detected in over 27.5% of the study’s subjects. The troponin I levels of the group that had experienced fibrillation and the group that had not were significantly different. This means that this biomarker, a type of cardiac and skeletal protein, could be a good predictor of this kind of heart issue, although these results should be replicated with larger sample sizes. 

As this list has made apparent, early-stage research is bringing new insights to fields that cross disciplines and span the globe. For the pharmaceutical industry, having access to these findings is a boon that cannot be ignored. By leveraging findings while still in their early stages, firms will have the opportunity to cut significant amounts of time off the lengthy process of drug development and accelerate the development of potentially life-saving human medicine.

Title photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

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