Fueled by new cancer therapeutics, last year the annual new molecular and biological entity approval count from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) saw its highest year since 1997. One-third of the novel products approved by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) are used to treat cancers of the blood, breast, colon, prostate, skin and thyroid.
Two recent research studies contribute to the growing body of evidence that the population of microbes residing in our intestines plays vital roles in our health. One is a meta-analysis of studies done to determine if taking probiotics alongside antibiotics can alleviate antibiotic associated diarrhea; results are reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association . The other evaluated the effects of red wine on the different species of bacteria in the gut; it appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition .
Just as clothing styles come in and out of fashion, diagnoses go through fads as well. While this is rarely true of diagnoses issued by traditional healthcare practitioners, health-related Internet sites (particularly those promoting alternative medicine) and some practitioners of alternative medicine may be susceptible to these diagnostic trends. One such fad diagnosis is lactose intolerance, which is sometimes blamed for everything from hyperactivity to joint pain.
Researchers have developed an innovative way to predict new uses for existing medicines. Using computers and genomic information, scientists at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, have established a method to identify FDA-approved drugs that may work against diseases they weren’t originally designed to combat. New research published in two articles in the August 17th online issue of Science Translational Medicine highlights two such repurposed drugs that may be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease and lung cancer [1-2].
Each year, nearly one billion people around the world lack access to safe, clean water . Water is essential for life, yet less than 1% of water on the planet is safe to drink. This is especially a problem in developing countries or during natural disasters. Take Hurricane Katrina: back in 2005 when it hit the Gulf Coast, one of the biggest needs for storm victims was access to clean drinking water.
In the United States and Europe, people take it for granted that when they turn on the faucet, clean water will flow out. Indeed, a single flush of a toilet in the West uses more water than most Africans have to perform an entire day’s washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking .
Securing access to safe water worldwide is vitally important. Clean water is essential for agriculture, food and energy production, recreation and reduction of poverty. More than 2 million people, most of them children, die every year from water-borne diseases. And time is of the essence: by 2020, more people could die of water-related diseases than those that have died due to HIV/AIDS .