Features, which are based on interviews with experts in the field, aim to offer an in-depth look at a wide variety of topics, from drug development to pharmacy practice. In 2017, features that delve into two new therapies for atopic dermatitis, stem cells for stroke, and genomic medicine were among the most popular of those published by The Pharmaceutical Journal. However, perhaps unsurprisingly given warnings from England’s chief medical officer that antimicrobial resistance could signal the end of modern medicine, the most popular feature was one on why there are so few antibiotics in the research and development pipeline, published in 2013.
The ten most popular features in 2017 were:
Atopic dermatitis can have a devastating effect on quality of life, but there have been no major changes to the way it has been treated for over 15 years. This feature, along with an accompanying infographic, describes how two therapies on the brink of entering the market — dupilumab, a biologic for severe disease, and crisaborole, a topical small molecule drug for milder disease — could herald a new era in the treatment of this distressing condition.
Researchers are investigating whether stem cells can be used to restore brain tissue and reverse disability in people who have suffered a stroke, or even to stop the damage from happening in the first place. This feature examines recent trial results, which indicate that the field is making progress towards human application.
The 100,000 Genome Project is driving the move from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to treatment, towards personalised, or precision, medicine. Genetic information is also being used by pharmaceutical companies to help speed up drug discovery and development, and reduce the associated costs. This feature looks at the important role pharmacists will have to play when genomic medicine goes mainstream.
Research indicates that there are multiple causes for the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and that most of them may involve the microbiome. IBS remains poorly understood and the drugs available to treat it usually offer symptomatic relief rather than tackling the underlying cause. Some scientists believe one reason IBS has proven hard to crack is because the cause of the syndrome probably differs from patient to patient — and this feature explains how understanding this may lead to better, more tailored, treatments.
Prompted by Brexit, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), currently based in London, will move to a new home within the European Union in 2019. This feature looks at the potential implications of this move for medicines regulation. An accompanying infographic analyses the bids of each of the 19 cities that applied to host the new headquarters, and a subsequent news story reveals that the winning city is Amsterdam.
The information gleaned from vast amounts of data presents a promising way to maximise the value of medicines, from identifying poor adherence to improving quality of prescribing. This feature examines projects in both the UK and the United States, which are doing just that.
Smart inhalers use Bluetooth technology to detect inhaler use, remind patients when to take their medication and gather data to help guide care. This feature describes how smart inhalers have the potential to improve patients’ adherence to asthma therapies and keep their condition under control, but says that it is clear they need to be designed with health systems and patients in mind so that they can offer maximum benefit.
Parents of children with treatment-resistant epilepsy are searching for something to help, and some are turning to cannabis to try to reduce seizure frequency. This feature details the clinical trials of cannabidiol-based drugs that are currently under way, as well as concerns about side effects, such as sedation, interactions with other drugs, and potential disturbances of brain development.
Only a few drugs are licensed to treat alcoholism and, although reasonably effective, they are not suitable for everyone. Increased understanding of the underlying neuroscience of alcohol addiction is revealing a wealth of new possible drug targets, and this feature describes a number of trials that are under way.
New drug delivery methods have started to emerge that aim to improve efficacy, cost-effectiveness and adherence as well as reduce side effects. This feature reviews four of the most exciting research efforts in drug delivery.