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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of the R&D news in brief

Cancer drug breakthrough
Scientists at Edinburgh University say they have made a breakthrough that could produce a new line of anti-cancer drugs. The scientists say they have pinpointed how a specific cell protein, MDM2, activates the spread of cancer by destroying key cancer-preventing protein p53 due to a biochemical imbalance. Head investigator Dr Kathryn Ball said the study had also identified another template for new drugs. ìWe have identified protein fragments which can bind to MDM2, inhibiting its activity,î she told the BBC. ìThese fragments could be a good template for drugs designed to hinder the role of MDM2 in the p53 destruction pathway.î Prof. John Toy, medical director at Cancer Research UK, which sponsored the study, said: ìIf p53 is being destroyed by another protein in a cancer cell, then it offers an excellent target when designing new anti-cancer drugs.î

Pill for Alzheimer's
A team from Australia's Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria has developed a pill it hopes could potentially cure Alzheimer's disease. Tests in mice have shown the drug, PBT2, can prevent build up of deposits of amyloid protein in the brain, which form plaques often seen in the brains of Alzheimer's patients at post mortem. The researchers said PBT2 therapy quickly and significantly improved spatial memory in mice. ìThis data is compelling and very exciting because it shows that PBT2 not only may facilitate the clearance of Abeta from the brain or prevent its production, but more importantly may improve cognition,î said lead researcher, Professor Ashley Bush. Human tests of the once-daily pill are due to start in August, followed by a major international trial next year.

30th September 2008

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