Inhaled drugs for lung cancer, microbial identification, universal flu vaccines and co-culture models

Last year, Eureka gave considerable attention to the development of oral drugs that interfere with specific molecules involved in lung cancer cell growth and survival. These targeted therapies are one reason life expectancies are slowly improving for this No. 1 cancer killer.

But what if you could treat lung tumors without swallowing a pill or receiving an injection? That’s the premise of a recent article in Scientific American by Charles River scientists Martin O’Rourke and Alan Young. Martin, the Senior Director of Oncology In Vitro Biosciences and Alan, a Senior Director of In Vivo Respiratory and Inflammation, suggest that inhaled delivery of lung cancer treatments is “a possibility worthy of serious consideration.”

Inhaled drugs are already common in the treatment of asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. For cancer therapeutics, however, attempts were limited to compounds not originally designed for inhaled use. That tide appears to have turned, with the first inhaled compounds and biologics for lung cancer using this strategy now in clinical trials.

Will we reach a point where inhaled delivery of chemotherapy drugs is the norm? As the article points out, we have the technology; what we need to do next is apply it to cancer.

Immuno-Oncology Platforms

Finding compounds that translate well in the clinic is the elusive gold star for drug manufacturers. In a recent article in  Contract Pharma, Martin O’Rourke, Senior Director of Oncology In Vitro Biosciences, describes a powerful soup-to-nuts platform that can move forward biologics or small-molecule modulators of immune response from in vitro to in vivo using primary immune cells and in vivo research models. This platform, also a hot topic at the recent American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Chicago, involves “complex co-culture model uses 3D tumor cell spheroids and immune cell populations, in conjunction with standard-of-care compounds, to model potential high bar efficacy models as a final check before moving to in vivo models.”

Universal Flu Fight

The flu season is behind us but what about the one coming up? Scientists have a decent idea what flu strains will be in circulation this fall, but it’s not an exact science, which is why this past year’s seasonal flu shot didn’t work as well as expected. A universal vaccine, theoretically, would be more protective, so why don’t we have one? Amro Ellabas, Bioassay and In Vivo Testing Manager at Charles River explains in Outsourcing-Pharma.com, some of the challenges in finding effective universal flu vaccines and in making seasonal ones. If you are interested in learning more about the pursuit of universal flu vaccines, check out our recent Eureka blog post Q&A with Peter Palese, a microbiology professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai and a pioneer in universal flu vaccine development.

Monitoring the Microbes

Accuracy is the essential ingredient for tracking microbes in a pharmaceutical or medical device facility. A recent article in GEN by Chris Farrance, Director of R&D for Charles River’s Microbial Solutions, offers some quick tips for choosing the appropriate identification or strain- typing platform. Closely related species may be difficult or impossible to distinguish using certain systems,” noted Chris. “Having access to methods with different resolution allows for greater accuracy when there are clear expectations for each technology.”