A press release from Ohio State University announces that, by studying the records of patients with melanoma, scientists have discovered that those taking a drug for high blood pressure known as a beta-blocker had a lower mortality rates. The article is published in Cancer Epidemiology.
By studying 200,000 humans, scientists have located 16 new gene variants that affect blood pressure. The articles can be found here and here. By analyzing 43 tumors, scientists from St Jude Children’s Research Hospital were able to discover that the childhood brain tumor known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) often contains numerous genetic mutations known as copy number variants. The article can be accessed in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. DIPG is a very rare tumor so if human tissue samples can be used to study this tumor, they can certainly be used to study more common tumors. Similarly, by studying humans, scientists discovered that people of African ancestry had genetic variants for another childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, that are associated with poorer outcomes.
Pharma and the government have long acknowledged that Pharma has few, if any, predictive tools. Humans and human DNA will ultimately be used to screen drugs. The following is from Drug Discovery & Development, September 20, 2011: “President Obama announced that the National Institutes of Health will collaborate with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop a chip to screen for safe and effective drugs far more swiftly and efficiently than current methods, and before they are tested in humans. . . . DARPA and NIH will facilitate collaborations between researchers and FDA to advance the goals of both programs. The two agencies, in coordination with FDA, will solicit proposals from industry, government labs, academic institutions, and other research organizations on how best to develop the chip, bringing together the latest advances in engineering, biology, and toxicology to bear on this complex problem. "Drug toxicity is one of the most common reasons why promising compounds fail," Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, NIH director says. "We need to know which ones are safe and effective much earlier on in the process. This is an unprecedented opportunity to speed development of effective therapies, while saving time and money." ”
The fact that individual humans respond differently to drugs and disease should come as no surprise in light of the fact that different strains of mice vary greatly even in their water consumption.(Bachmanov et al. 2002)Only by matching disease and drug response to genes and genetic makeup can medical science assure drug safety and efficacy and assure that diseases will be diagnosed early enough to be successfully treated. What all of the above has in common is the fact that it human-based. The only intact system that can predict what will happen in you when you take a drug or are exposed to a disease is you. (See Vivisection Or Death: Part III, No Other Options.)
Finally, several months ago Dr Ringach made certain claims regarding thalidomide—the drug that caused birth defects in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I said I would write a response to his claims (his claims were not unique and I needed to address such claims anyway). The article has been published in TheJournal of Philosophy, Science & Law. The article can be accessed here. The journal is indexed, peer-reviewed, and open access so anyone can read the article free of charge.