Predicting how drugs interact and driving flies to drink

19 March 2012

Predicting how drugs interact to produce side effects

Scientists have come up with a new way to anticipate previously hard to predict drug side effects.

During their development, most drugs are tested in isolation, meaning a patient only takes one drug at one time.

But, in the clinic, most patients end up being prescribed mixtures of different drugs at once to treat a range of diseases.

And predicting how these mixtures might lead to side effects has always been extremely difficult.

But now, writing in Science Translational Medicine, researchers at Stanford University have used data from four million patients to design a statistical system that can spot when potential problems might arise, including between combinations of drugs in routine current use.

Nicholas Tattonetti -   We identified a potential interaction between thiazides that treat hypertension and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which are antidepressants, and we associated them with an increased prolonged QT interval and this is a clinical risk factor for heart arrhythmia.  So it's a potentially important clinical variable.

Tatonetti NP et al (2012), Sci Transl Med, 4, 125, Data-Driven Prediction of Drug Effects and Interactions

A new uranium compound has been produced which could help mop up nuclear waste

A new form of uranium could make radioactive waste easier to reproIAEA nuclear symbol.cess in the future.

Generating electricity from nuclear power inevitably produces radioactive materials that need recycling or long term storage. At the moment the estimated cost of clearing up just the UK's accumulating stock of nuclear waste is 70 billion pounds

But now, Edinburgh University chemist Polly Arnold and her colleagues, writing in the journal Nature Chemistry have discovered a new way to make clusters of uranium which may make these valuable radioactive materials easier to recycle.

Polly Arnold -   One of the things that happens when you process nuclear waste is you need to separate out all the different metal components, the metal oxides.  Things that can cause problems is when they cluster and form aggregates.  But people don't know very much about how these form and then how to get rid of them.  So the fact that we've seen this tiny beginning of a cluster suggests that it might lead us to think about new ways the clusters might form and then new ways to deal with the nuclear waste processing that goes on at the moment.

Arnold PL et al (2012), Nature Chemistry, 4, 221-227, Strongly coupled binuclear uranium-oxo complexes from uranyl oxo rearrangement and reductive silylation

Treating manic depression by increasing the strength and length of the body
An old style alarm clockclock

Scientists have uncovered how the drug lithium, which can help sufferers of bipolar disorder,  or manic depression, as it is also known, actually works.

Lithium has been one of the main treatments for bipolar disorder for the last 60 years. But exactly how it works has remained a mystery.

Now, writing in PloS One and using cells cultured from mice, scientists have shown that lithium achieves its therapeutic effects by strengthening the body's circadian clock, which it does by switching off a signalling enzyme called glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta. In people with mood disorders this enzyme has been shown to be overactive.

The discovery could have implications for other neurological disorders.

Jian Li et al., (2012) PloS One Lithium Impacts on the Amplitude and Period of the Molecular Circadian Clockwork. e33292. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033292

Fruit flies deprived of sex turn to alcohol

Flies deprived of sex turn to alcohol, scientists have shown this week.Alcoholic flies

One group of male flies were offered multiple mating opportunities. A second group were repeatedly rejected by a group of already sexually satisfied females.

Provided with a choice of foods that either did or didn't contain alcohol, the flies that had been repeatedly rejected were much more likely to opt for the booze soaked dish.

Galit Ophir -   This is a basic science study so it tells us better about how the brain represents social experience in terms of reward and it has implications into understanding better the mechanisms that are involved in social reward which is important to social related disorders and also to addiction.

That study was published in the journal Science.

G. Shohat-Ophir, et al., (2012) Science, 335, 6074: 1351-1355. Sexual Deprivation Increases Ethanol Intake in Drosophila.

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