Editorials

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  • A proposed HIV prevention trial in African infants using the antibody therapy VRC01 offers hope, but some researchers say other antibodies might be more effective. Given the thorny nature of testing therapies in newborns and the limited funds for the rollout of HIV trials, advisory bodies such as the US Institute of Medicine would do well to weigh in on the ethical framework for pediatric trials of antibody drugs in resource-poor settings.

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  • Last January, scientists voluntarily imposed a pause on research that could lead to the generation of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses with increased transmissibility to mammals. Now, new restrictions currently under debate further risk stalling progress in avian flu research.

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  • A recent court ruling that favored freedom of speech over the authority of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate off-label drug promotion may have profound implications for the way drugs are marketed and, ultimately, for patients' interests.

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  • In spite of years of effort, we still lack highly efficacious vaccines against HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and numerous other widespread pathogens. Two recent setbacks in vaccine trials suggest that it's time to rethink how new vaccines are developed and to investigate what can be learned from the existing armament of childhood vaccines.

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  • Big pharma has historically made some substantial missteps regarding the full reporting of clinical trial results, but a new initiative by GlaxoSmithKline is a move in the right direction.

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  • A new initiative for ensuring the reproducibility of biomedical research is commendable, but the involvement of a for-profit company may not be the right path forward.

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  • This summer, researchers launched a strategy to accelerate finding a cure for HIV. The effort aims to revolutionize treatment of the infection, but the inherent risks require that regulators ensure a measured approach.

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  • Amid an obesity epidemic, the approval of two new obesity drugs might revamp the clinical landscape of obesity treatment.

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  • Biomedical research faces budgetary cuts in the United States and abroad. But although solutions to manage the restricted funds can be found, initiating change may be the greater hurdle.

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  • Novartis's recent legal action against the UK National Health Service to prevent the off-label use of Avastin for macular degeneration challenges the current regulatory structures ensuring accountability for the safety and quality of drugs.

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  • Recent advances in asthma research have altered views of how the disease is triggered and sustained. What remains to be seen is whether this knowledge can be integrated into the clinic to alter the natural course of disease.

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  • Translational research that takes place in academic settings is increasingly being funded by private-public partnerships. As these partnerships become more prevalent, scientists need to strike a balance between the benefits from this welcome funding source and the protection of their academic freedom.

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  • Despite intense efforts to rid the world of poliovirus, it continues to persevere. Given the serious limitations of the existing vaccines, the feasibility of eradication must be reassessed.

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  • Budget cuts and administrative changes that have eliminated the Ministry of Science in Spain illustrate the need to safeguard science funding and policies in European countries immersed in the economic crisis.

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  • Emergency contraceptive pills have long been a hot button issue in US politics due to their mischaracterization as inducing abortion and promoting promiscuity, leading to delayed approvals and restricted access. A recent decision on the Plan B One-Step pill suggests that, once again, science has taken a back seat to politics.

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  • Retracting a paper is perhaps the most unpleasant task a journal has to face, particularly if the retraction involves scientific misconduct. With the number of retractions on the rise, an improved mechanism to deal with misconduct is necessary.

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  • Treating costly conditions such as Alzheimer's disease may soon collapse healthcare systems around the world, yet companies hesitate to invest in the long, large clinical trials required to discover disease-modifying therapies. New incentives are necessary to turn this tide.

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  • The starting point for many drug discovery programs is a published report on a new drug target. Assessing the reliability of such papers requires a nuanced view of the process of scientific discovery and publication.

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  • Global health programs have made great strides in the last ten years, mobilizing billions of dollars to provide life-saving drugs and immunizations to people in resource-poor settings. But these myriad initiatives need to get in step to improve integration of healthcare delivery.

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  • Conditional approval aims to speed the delivery of drugs to patients in need. But when full approval is denied, complications arise for patients, companies and regulatory agencies alike.

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