Waking up our immune cells with nanoparticles, the drug repurposing industry, telomeres and aging, gene expression profiling for scleroderma. 

The Drug Repurposing Industry

(The Scientist, 1/1/17, Anna Azvolinsky)

Many academic researchers are turning their attention to existing drugs as a potential goldmine of therapies that are cheaper and faster to move into the clinic, and they’re getting more methodical in their approach. In this recent article in The Scientist, author Anna Azvolinsky explores the industry that has sprung up around resurrecting failed drugs and recycling existing compounds for novel indications.

Can We Control Aging?

(STAT, 1/3/17, Karen Weintraub)

A new book authored by Nobelist Elizabeth Blackburn, who shared the prize for discovering structures on the tips of chromosomes called telomeres, suggests we may be able to lengthen these telomeres and perhaps our lives by actually keeping all those New Year’s resolutions. Blackburn and Psychologist Elissa Epel wrote The Telomere Effect, which was released this week. “Telomeres listen to you, they listen to your behaviors, they listen to your state of mind,” said Blackburn, president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.

A Nanoscopic Wake-Up Call

(Science, 1/5/17, Robert Service)

Particles the width of a human hair might be able to help our immune system fight cancer, suggests a study appearing this week in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The research led Wenbin Lin, a chemist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, found that injecting mice with breast cancer with nanoparticles along with a checkpoint antibody, and then blasting the tumors with infrared light, not only destroyed the primary breast cancer tumor but metastases as well.

Systemic Scleroderma

(DNA Science Blog, 1/5/17, Ricki Lewis)

Systemic scleroderma is an autoimmune disease, but a recent report describes how gene expression profiling — transcriptomics – can add precision to diagnosis, monitor response to treatment, and identify drugs that might be repurposed to target the condition.

—Compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Regina McEnery