PHARMACY

New study suggests insulin could be used as antiaging treatment

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON A new study, being published in the journal Cell, has discovered that insulin could potentially serve as an antiaging treatment.

According to published reports, the study was conducted by adjusting insulin levels on worms known as Caenorhabditis elegans. As a result, the worms lived one week longer than their usual lifespan, which is two weeks.

It is too early to be applied to humans, but the findings are very significant for future breakthroughs in increasing people’s ability to fight free radicals. “We’re understanding more and more about how cellular processes can really influence how we defend ourselves against challenges from the environment,” said study co-author T. Keith Blackwell, senior investigator at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center, in Boston.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar and if the body either produces very little, or none at all, it causes diabetes. The relation of the study with diabetes has yet to be determined.

The research was conducted, according to published reports, by having the Joslin researchers lower insulin levels, which boosted levels of the gene-regulating protein SKN-1, therefore causing the worms to live longer.

According to Blackwell, the study signifies the workings of the human body, and how they can be tweaked to increase a lifespan, when explaining “Your body has its own antioxidant systems that clean up damage and protect you from damage. We were able to push the activity of that system upward and make the animals live longer.”

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New combination of drugs shown favorable in treating lupus

BY Diana Alickaj

NEW YORK A new study suggests that a combination of two potent drugs may serve as a new treatment for those who don’t respond to conventional Lupus treatments.

In the study, Ronald van Vollenhoven and colleagues at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm tested 16 female patients who did not respond to traditional lupus treatment, and were given, as a result, weekly infusions of rituximab for 4 weeks. The first and last infusions were combined with cyclophosphamide and a steroid, according to published reports.

It was found that after 6 months there was a significant decrease of SLE severity also known as systemic lupus erythematosus, which is an autoimmune disorder that damages the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs and blood.

Researchers noted that the presence of rituximab which targets B cells of the immune system, and cyclophsophamide, a strong immune suppressant drug, showed 50 percent improvement in disease severity, as well as causing the disease to go to remission in nine out of the thirteen patients.

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Amgen, Roche battle over Mircera still unsettled

BY Diana Alickaj

In the long battle for Amgen to prevent generic drug company Roche Holdings from bringing its anemia drug Mircera into the US market, a federal appeals court has ruled that Roche could import its drug as long as it was not for sale, while also returning the case back to the International Trade Commission.

Amgen feels that since Roche applied for Mircera’s approval from the FDA, it was violating Amgen’s patents—for Epogen and Aranesp—because the application proved intent to sell. The FDA has already approved the drug but, according to published reports, it has not been marketed it in the US based on the legal matters involved.

As Drug Store News reported yesterday, Roche agreed to the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts’ conditions in an attempt to get Mircera on the market, including, according to published reports, paying Amgen a higher royalty fee. The court’s approval would give Amgen a new rival in the top selling Anemia market, which has made up more than 40 percent of Amgen’s revenue per year. Roche has agreed to set Mircera’s price at or below Epogen’s for the remainder of the patents that Amgen holds.

Amgen’s patents for its anemia drugs begin expiring in 2013, and, according to reports, Roche plans on waiting until then to sell its drug in the U.S. According to IMS Health, Aranesp had U.S. sales of $3.2 billion last year and Epogen had sales of $3.1 billion.

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