Why does regulation matter in drug discovery? It may seem like a big obstacle in the path to delivering novel medicines to patients, delaying their treatment and prolonging discomfort. But how do we know that the drugs we take actually have their intended purpose? Are we aware of any potential side effects/adverse reactions? This is a true story of how a heroine dared to ask these questions, and saved a nation in the process.
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.
Friday 28 September 1928. Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming would walk into his Imperial College laboratory on the morning of this day to find a petri dish containing staphylococcus bacteria to be contaminated by mold. The mold seemed to inhibit the growth of bacteria, leading Fleming to conclude that it had produced a substance harbouring anti-bacterial properties. The events that would conspire in the following years would arguably be the biggest success story the world has ever witnessed.
Like many others out there, I require at least one cup of coffee a day to function – in fact I am drinking a cappuccino as I type this. Interestingly, there is more chemistry involved in the brewing and consumption of coffee than just getting your caffeine fix. We also explore death by coffee, because that’s what the masses want. Right?