What do turkeys and bananas have in common? While they are indeed tasty, both also happen to be especially susceptible to… fungi. No, it’s not some mutant giant mushroom on a rampage that you should be worried about, but rather the toxic chemicals that some species of fungi produce. Mom was definitely right when she warned you against eating those colorful mushrooms growing in your backyard as a kid; here’s how these so-called mycotoxins affect us more than we think.
Remember those ‘get out of jail free’ cards in the board game Monopoly, with somewhat dubious value (i.e. you’d sell them right before you landed in jail) that could get you back on track quicker? It turns out that this express ticket exists in the drug discovery world, and we’ll take you on this multi-million dollar ride.
The process of taking a synthesized compound to market as a drug takes years, even decades, with the monetary cost of such an endeavor averaging $2 billion per approved drug. With such high risk and no promise of reward, companies and institutions all around the world still work toward inventing, testing and manufacturing these drugs.
The past few months have been revolutionary in the history – and perhaps more so the future – of medicine. In August 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its first gene therapy approval to Kymriah for treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Just weeks later Yescarta was approved for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. By Christmas that year, Luxturna became the first ever in vivo gene therapy to be FDA approved. In March 2018, Luxturna was used successfully to treat a young patient, preventing him from going blind.