Weight loss drugs of a new class

I once attended a pharmacology conference at McCormick Place in Chicago. It’s a huge conference centre and navigating its many halls is daunting for someone like me who has no sense of direction. Ambling towards the lecture theatre I wandered through the exhibition hall festooned with donut stands, pretzel stalls, breakfast burritos, waffles and pancakes.Continue reading “Weight loss drugs of a new class”

Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is a term used to describe several inflammatory conditions affecting joints. As is so often the case with medical history, the name was derived from observed symptoms but subsequently it was found these were the result of a plethora of different causes. Today, “arthritis” covers around 100 different conditions associated with joint disease. RheumatoidContinue reading “Osteoarthritis”

Controversial Alzheimer’s drug

Last year a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s arrived on the scene called aducanumab, trade name Aduhelm, made by Biogen in Cambridge Massachusetts. It’s claimed this drug is different to its predecessors because it targets the causative biology of the disease – but it’s not without some controversy. To explain, let’s first look at whatContinue reading “Controversial Alzheimer’s drug”

The world’s most expensive drug is not a drug

Reports have appeared in the media recently headlining “the world’s most expensive drug” The subject of these headlines is Libmeldy, but the media seems obsessed with its cost, rather than what Libmeldy actually is. And, by the way, Libmeldy is no more a drug than my bird-watching binoculars are the James Web Space Telescope, butContinue reading “The world’s most expensive drug is not a drug”

Covid-19 and the brain

A common symptom of Covid-19 is anosmia (loss of the ability to smell) which suggested to some that the virus could get into the brain. More recent evidence seems to bear this out, although there is still a lot of speculation. I once attended a lecture by Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, who astonished theContinue reading “Covid-19 and the brain”

Spinal muscular atrophy and Zolgensma

Reports have appeared in the UK media of the NHS administering the most expensive drug in the world to a 5-month-old boy. Onasemnogene abeparvovec (sold as Zolgensma), costing around two and a half million US-dollars (£1.79 million),* is a gene therapy agent to treat spinal muscular atrophy. The headlines quoted the price but gave scantContinue reading “Spinal muscular atrophy and Zolgensma”

A Crisis of Infection

It’s amazing what humankind can achieve with the right amount of political will and resources. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Roosevelt oversaw the rebuilding of the Pacific fleet in only 6-months. Driven by rivalry with the Soviet Union, Kennedy announced in May 1961, “…we choose to go to the moon …”Continue reading “A Crisis of Infection”

New Covid-19 tests

A Covid-19 blog post for the non-expert We’ve been hearing how the UK government wants to return to normal life under its £100bn Operation Moonshot Covid-19 testing programme. Headlines such as those in the Daily Mail have proclaimed “Prospect’ of 10-minute ‘rapid turnaround’ Covid tests” but others including the BMJ are not so sure. I thought,Continue reading “New Covid-19 tests”

What is interferon and is it effective against Covid-19?

A blog post for the non-expert Our best hope against Covid-19 is an effective vaccine, and efforts in that direction are galloping along like no other time in history. There are so many vaccines being investigated, it’s hard to keep up with the numbers, but at the time of writing there appear to be wellContinue reading “What is interferon and is it effective against Covid-19?”