This week in drug discovery (24-28 January) 

News round-up by DDW’s Megan Thomas for 24-28 January, 2022 

From further Covid-19 developments to cancer and chronic pain studies, there is a lot to appreciate and get excited about in the drug discovery sector. DDW’s Megan Thomas has rounded up five stories that have stood out over the week. 

1. Covid-19 booster provides good antibody protection against Omicron 

A third ‘booster’ dose of Covid-19 vaccine successfully raises antibody levels that neutralise the Omicron variant, according to laboratory findings from the Francis Crick Institute and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, published as a Research letter in The Lancet.  

2. Psychotherapists begin training for treatment resistant depression trials 

Beckley Psytech has announced that the first cohort of psychotherapists have begun training in advance of the expected Phase II clinical trial examining 5-MeO-DMT-assisted psychotherapy in treatment resistant depression (TRD).   

3. Neurodegenerative collaboration seeks novel drug candidates  

Neurimmune has signed an expanded drug discovery collaboration agreement with Ono Pharmaceutical, which is focused on creating antibody drugs against new therapeutic targets in the field of neurodegenerative diseases utilising Neurimmune’s proprietary Reverse Translational Medicine (RTM) technology platform, an antibody drug creation approach. 

4. Immunotherapy before surgery in liver cancer patients can kill the tumour 

In a clinical trial, Mount Sinai scientists gave immunotherapy to liver cancer patients before they received surgery and found that tumours died off significantly before surgery in a third of the patients, according to results reported in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.   

5. Altasciences and Virpax conduct first-in-human study for chronic pain   

Virpax Pharmaceuticals has chosen Altasciences to conduct a first-in-human study of Epoladerm (diclofenac epolamine) for chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. This treatment is supplied in a pre-filled device for administration as a topical spray film. 

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