A new feature in Wired highlights scientific advances that may make gene therapy much safer and more widespread. But it's important to check whether the regulation of clinical trials has advanced equally well.
An Irish company is using four American diamondback rattlesnakes in a new clinical trial that will test snake venom as a treatment for cancer. The snakes, which hail from the Albuquerque BioPark, will be allowed to bite something and have their venom extracted humanely. The venom contains proteins that will be extracted and refined to target and kill cancer cells.
Members of a health-related data-sharing website evaluated the use of a drug for treatment of a debilitating degenerative disease, the first time a social network was used to monitor patient treatment in real time.
And to think we once thought spray-on bandages were revolutionary. Doctors at the University of Utah’s Burn Care Center are reporting success in their pilot project testing stem cell solutions sprayed directly onto burns.
So much for going off your meds. University of Florida researchers have created an ingestible pill capsule fitted with a tiny microchip and antenna that alerts doctors or family members each time a pill is taken. Miss a dose and you're busted.
Over the last decade, the advances in neuroscience that led doctors to view addiction as a disease, rather than a desire or personal failing, raised the natural question of whether or not addicts could be vaccinated against drug use as if it were a virus. While the theory remains valid, the recent clinical trial of one of those vaccines, called TA-CD, highlights the complexity of the issue.
TA-CD works by preventing cocaine from entering the brain, thus stopping the user from getting high. It does not, however, stop cravings, leading some test participants who received the vaccine to take 10 times as much cocaine in the hopes of overriding the vaccine and getting high, or to bankrupt themselves while trying to do so.
Last month, scientists reported that a clinical trial for an HIV vaccine showed the first-ever success in preventing transmission of the virus. However, a number of HIV researchers believe that the enthusiasm for last month's vaccine results should be dampened in light of a more comprehensive review of the data.
Animal rights activists, take note: when it comes to experimental cancer treatments, American pet dogs are now in line in front of humans, participating in trials that in several cases have destroyed cancers completely.
Dogs experience cancer in ways similar to humans, making them preferable research subjects to lab rats and mice, whose experimental settings are too regimented to reflect a human reaction to cancers. Those human-like reactions have granted dying dogs access to treatments ahead of dying humans in some cases, allaying some ethical fears while stirring up others.