By Elise Byun
Originally posted on Medill Reports – Chicago
Free beer and science research sounds like an unlikely combination. But it’s just what Chicago needs, according to organizers of the first annual Pint of Science Festival. The Festival makes science fun and easy to digest.
David J. Hofman, physics professor at University of Illinois at Chicago, kicked off the Tuesday night session at Bar Louie with a trek back to the Big Bang. “State of the Universe, less than a second after the big bang,” gave audiences a glimpse of his research reconstructing the universe’s earliest moments.
“We really are trying to build up what the cosmologists are saying that the early part of the universe could be,” Hofman said. “Can we make that in a laboratory now and study it?” Essentially, they want to go back in time and re-create the first microsecond of the Big Bang, but without leaving the lab.
If you follow me on Twitter then you have undoubtedly seen a few tweets about Pint of Science. But do you know what you are missing out on?
New scientific discoveries are happening all the time, fascinating developments which will change the future of the human race. But how often are you given the chance to really understand how these discoveries are made and what they mean?
Scientists searching for better painkillers are taking inspiration from an unusual population: people who feel no pain at all.
Research has shown that rare mutations in a gene called SCN9A can give people complete immunity to pain. Now, pharmaceutical companies are aiming to develop drugs to mimic that genetic mutation.
Scientists have struggled to find better treatments for chronic pain, which affects about 1 in 5 people. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sometimes don’t work very well, while more powerful opiates such as morphine, codeine or oxycodone can be dangerously addictive. People suffering from neuropathic pain tied to nerve damage, meanwhile, often get little relief from current painkillers.
Now Pfizer Inc. PFE +0.51% and a handful of smaller companies such as Canada’s Xenon Pharmaceuticals Inc. and the U.K.’s Convergence Pharmaceuticals Ltd. are working on new methods tied to the SCN9A gene. Instead of muting pain by reducing inflammation, as ibuprofen and similar drugs do, or by switching on the body’s own analgesic properties, as opiates do, the new experimental drugs seek to block the ability of nerve cells to send pain signals.
Read the rest of the WSJ article on their website.
(note: I was referring to Connor Hawke, not the original Green Arrow. I guess I could have gone with Bane, but using a villain just didn’t seem right)
The Culture War in healthcare has gone front and center (and the good side is winning) | MedCity News.
Transforming the culture of healthcare has become the most important issue for medical innovation – more so than the innovations themselves.
There are two cultures in healthcare. There’s the dominant, traditional medical culture that moves at the speed of clinical trials and medical research. It stands above the new data-driven, tech-savvy, innovate-and-live-entrepreneurially “new” culture.
It’s pretty clear after a couple days at MedCity CONVERGE this week in Philadelphia that New Culture is ready to take the lead in healthcare. Many of the new approaches are not all-the-way there yet. But the structure is now in place to do so: many leaders from the old have embraced the new approach, new thinkers have moved up the ranks, government policies and other incentives have changed, and technology (with business models) are coming of age.
The pharmaceutical industry faces a critical need for change. The unsustainable trajectory of health care spending and a wave of regulatory reforms have triggered forces that are transforming the pharmaceutical landscape and introducing new complexities into the marketplace. Business models that were once highly effective now yield diminishing returns and may not be a good fit for a future market increasingly driven by data, health economics and comparative effectiveness. To make matters worse, many leading companies continue to wrestle with revenue gaps left by patent expiries—and a shortage of high-impact breakthroughs to replace them—making it hard to set a clear path for sustained growth and value creation.
Some pharma companies are trying to address these challenges with traditional strategies such as reloading product pipelines through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Others are looking for growth “beyond the pill.” And many larger companies are taking a broader approach, pursuing a wide range of growth initiatives in the hope of hitting on something of significant value. However, our experience suggests these strategies are generally not delivering the kind of value shareholders expect. Companies that deviate from their core business in search of growth often add complexity without clear benefits. What’s more, many organizations have not yet done enough to address their operational inefficiencies.
Read Deloitte’s White Paper: Big pharma: Business model choices for the new market.
Problem, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, patient response rates to medicines can be very low, ranging from 20%-75%. Every year 100,000 American’s die from adverse medical reactions with another 2,000,000 hospitalized. Does this seem wasteful to anyone else? In a time when we are trying to reduce the cost of healthcare, we need to start to invest the research and the small companies that are paving the way for this new model.
Def: Personalized medicine or PM is a medical model that proposes the customization of healthcare – with medical decisions, practices, and/or products being tailored to the individual patient. The use of genetic information has played a major role in certain aspects of personalized medicine, and the term was even first coined in the context of genetics (though it has since broadened to encompass all sorts of personalization measures). To distinguish from the sense in which medicine has always been inherently “personal” to each patient, PM commonly denotes the use of some kind of technology or discovery enabling a level of personalization not previously feasible or practical.
Colin Palmer, head of pharmacogenomics at Dundee University, explains the pharma industry needs to “try and get rid of the one-size fits all approach to medicine. Instead, he says, the future of medicine lies in creating more effective drugs that are tailored to the individual.