More on Medicine: Drugs that could change the world

We are currently living in a world where medicine is constantly in flux; treatments are evolving and changing every day. Although technology is at the forefront of medical innovation, there are still huge pharmaceutical advances every single day that will have a positive and life-changing impact on millions of people worldwide. Here are four exciting drug developments that you may have missed out on this year!

In England alone, over 60% of adults are overweight or obese, and every year, millions die from diseases associated with being overweight1. It is fairly common advice given to all that to lose weight you need to eat healthier food in place of junk food and exercise more. With the huge amount of junk food readily available and busy lifestyles, sometimes this is hard to do effectively. Enter Mysimba. This new drug, currently in phase III of medical trials, has been proven to help weight loss when used alongside controlled diets and regular exercise, as well as hugely beneficial effects seen in those with other conditions such as type II diabetes and high blood pressure. There have been no major serious side effects reported, and with such promising results, we may soon see this drug on the market, helping reduce the number of obesity-related deaths, helping the busy people of today lead healthier lives2,3.

The next in our list of ‘drugs to watch’ are not new drugs per se. Two drugs, Trazodone and Dibenzoylmethane (DBM), are already used as an antidepressant and trial cancer treatment respectively, have a new potential use in the treatment neurodegenerative diseases, like dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. In mice, both drugs led to restoration of memory, reduced brain shrinkage, and extended the survival time of the mice. Both drugs did not produce any major side effects, and so the next phase could be to move onto human trials. Trazodone is already in regular use, and so has passed necessary safety checks, therefore we could be seeing this disease-modifying dementia drug on the market sooner than expected, if human clinical trials are successful4.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a lifelong, often painful condition affecting around 1 in 5 people, with the two key symptoms being abdominal pain and diarrhoea5. Before this year, treatment options were very limited, but a drug called Truberzi is available to specifically treat these common and painful symptoms of IBS. Truberzi, also called Eluxadoline, works by slowing down the rate of gut contractions, allowing more time for better absorption; in its phase III clinical trials, the drug shows significant improvements in both abdominal pain reduction and decrease in diarrhoea incidence. It has now been approved for use within the EU, which means that over 13 million people in the UK now have an option to help treat a condition that can be both physically and emotionally distressing6.

The last drug is again one already used for one purpose, but has potential to help hugely in another area of Medicine; ketamine is regularly used as an anaesthetic, but also shows promising results in the treatment of severe depression. Over the last ten years, doctors have conducted small tests on patients with depression who have stopped responding to antidepressants. A small study by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2006 was the first to explore ketamine as a treatment for depression; within one day, over 70% of patients saw improvements in their symptoms following a single intravenous dose, and the positive response lasted, on average, a week7. Another study in 2010 showed similar results, with over half the patients experiencing a minimum of 50% reduction in symptoms8 The most recent study explores how ketamine works against depression9. With experts hailing ketamine as the ‘most significant advancement in mental health’ in more than 50 years, the only drawback right now is lack of data, a problem that could be solved with more funding.

2017 is already proving to be a huge year in the pharmaceutical industry, with these four drugs merely being the tip of the iceberg. Expect to see both these drugs, and many more, continuing to change and shape the future of medication.

Ella Rayment
Summer Intern
themedicapp.co

References

  1. Baker C. Obesity Statistics. London: House of Commons Library; 2017:2.
  2. EPAR Summary For The Public: Mysimba. European Medicines Agency; 2015:1-2.
  3. Summary Of The Risk Management Plan (RMP) For Mysimba (Naltrexone / Bupropion). European Medicines Agency; 2015:1-12.
  4. Halliday M, Radford H, Zents K et al. Repurposed drugs targeting eIF2α-P-mediated translational repression prevent neurodegeneration in mice. Brain. 2017;140(6):1768-1783. doi:10.1093/brain/awx074.
  5. Card T, Canavan C, West J. The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical Epidemiology. 2014;6:71-80. doi:10.2147/clep.s40245.
  6. Truberzi 75 mg film-coated tablets and 100 mg film-coated tablets. Electronic Medicines Compendium. 2017. Available at: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/33178. Accessed July 6, 2017.
  7. Zarate C, Singh J, Carlson P et al. A Randomized Trial of an N-methyl-D-aspartate Antagonist in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2006;63(8):856. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.63.8.856.
  8. Diazgranados N, Ibrahim L, Brutsche N et al. A Randomized Add-on Trial of an N-methyl-D-aspartate Antagonist in Treatment-Resistant Bipolar Depression. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2010;67(8):793. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.90.
  9. Zanos P, Moaddel R, Morris P et al. 790. Ketamine Exerts NMDAR Inhibition-Independent Antidepressant Actions via Its Hydroxynorketamine Metabolites. Biological Psychiatry. 2017;81(10):S321. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.02.857.