drug discovery

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of  Vienna have developed a light-field laser imaging system that generates 3D movies of entire brains at a millisecond timescale to create a complete “living” brain map.  The research thereby offers a more complete picture of nervous system activity than has been previously possible.   The technique is envisioned to elucidate how entire neural circuits operate to generate behavior, thereby empowering new therapeutic strategies for neurological and psychiatric disorders.  To date the system has been used to simultaneously image the activity of every neuron in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans as well as the entire brain of a zebrafish larva.  Such an approach could help researchers learn more about the biological basis of brain disorders and monitor the reactions of the nervous system to drugs and other substances in the body.  The researchers believe that the “ability to survey activity throughout a nervous system may help pinpoint the cells or networks that are involved with a brain disorder, leading to new ideas for therapies.”  In addition, this technique may be useful for mechanistic toxicology to help determine the relevance of adverse events for human safety.

Source:  Drug Development News

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In the next 2-5 years, large pharmaceutical companies plan to increase outsourcing of preclinical work, with emphasis on Discovery and non-GLP Toxicology.  This trend is driven by the reductions in internal preclinical capability within Big Pharma.  In an apparent reversal of the current trend towards use of a limited number of preferred providers, capacity will necessitate increasing the number of contract research organizations (CRO) involved.  An offshore trend is anticipated despite the rapidly narrowing price differentials between Chinese and Western CROs for nonclinical work.  A survey suggested that the offshore CROs best positioned to secure the early-stage drug development business from large pharmaceutical companies are Covance, WuXi, BioDuro, and ShangPharma.   As an example, ShangPharma recently opened a new facility to accommodate a multi-year contract with Eli Lilly, with emphasis on in vivo pharmacology, oncology, and metabolic disease work.

Sources:  Outsourcing-Pharma.com 11 Jan 201217 Apr 2012, 19 Apr 2012

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