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Issue 3 - 25/11/13

MSF: A personal perspective from beyond the borders
Venue: St George's, University of London, Michael Heron Lecture Theatre
Speaker: Hattie Rees-Forman
Entry: Members (Free), Non-members (£1)
Want to know more about MSF missions?  To gain a greater understanding of what working as an international medical volunteer entails? Next Tuesday, Hattie Rees-Forman will be coming to GHF to give us a personal perspective on working on MSF missions in war torn countries. Come and hear from someone who had the desire to work for MSF and managed to turn this into reality. 

PM hails new deal to fight resistance to antibiotics


Prime Minister David Cameron has applauded a new deal between an SGUL spin-out firm and an Indian pharmaceutical firm to develop ways to combat resistance to antibiotics.

Helperby Therapeutics, the spin-out led by SGUL's Anthony Coates, professor of medical microbiology, has teamed up with Indian firm Cadila to develop ways to tackle the problem of widespread resistance to antibiotics which the World Health Organisation’s director Margaret Chan fears could mean an end to modern medicine as we know it.

Prime Minister Cameron, on a trade mission to India, praised the new deal called the Joint Antibiotic Drug Resistance Research and Development Agreement.

He said: “The life sciences industry is the jewel in the crown for the UK economy, consistently growing and achieving new breakthroughs.

“Today’s deal between Helperby and Cadila Pharmaceuticals on antibiotic resistance research is another great example of UK-India collaboration helping both our countries to succeed in the global race.

“And it’s not just a step forward for medical research it also has the potential to create up to 1,000 highly skilled jobs in the UK by 2019.”

Helperby has been working for the past 12 years on ways to tackle antibiotic resistance and has discovered a new series of potent, fast-acting drugs which rescue old antibiotics.

Instead of targeting multiplying bacteria, the research team focused on non-multiplying, dormant bacteria. Developing antibiotics that target these specific bacteria has never been done before. Conventional methods of screening have consistently missed these promising potential drugs.

Helperby has made a major breakthrough in the fight against resistance with the discovery of patented ‘resistance breaker’ compounds - in what has been described as the most important innovation in the discovery of new antibiotics since Alexander Fleming’s original breakthrough more than 80 years ago.

The lead compound, HT61, has proven effective at ‘Phase II’ clinical trials where it was shown to boost the effect of old antibiotics.

HT61 also renders a number of old antibiotics active against highly resistant bacteria so it has been called an Antibiotic Resistance Breaker.

Travelling with the UK’s Trade Delegation to India, led by Prime Minister Cameron, Helperby signed its first major licensing deal with Cadila Pharmaceuticals to take the compound through further clinical trials, approvals and into commercialisation. Helperby will supply Cadila with Antibiotic Resistance Breakers whilst Cadila will develop the combinations with old antibiotics.

Prof Coates said: “This exciting and timely partnership with Cadila offers us all hope.

“A future without antibiotics is unthinkable but it could happen - imagine a time when a cut finger could leave you fighting for your life. The emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens has accelerated whilst the pipeline for new anti-microbial drugs has all but run dry.

“Traditionally a new antibiotic would take between 10-18 years to bring to market at a cost of at least $50million.  In that time many lives could have been lost, as well as the emergence of further resistant strains.  This exciting new development will allow the rejuvenation of existing antibiotics, many of which have been rendered ineffective against emerging, resistant strains.”

Cadila Pharmaceuticals is one of the largest privately held pharmaceutical companies in India and was the first Indian company to receive Investigational New Drug approval by the stringent Food and Drug Administration USA.  It is now actively considering a presence in the UK with a corresponding programme for UK microbiologists as part of the collaboration.

Dr Rajiv I Modi, Cadila’s chairman and managing director, said: “The Founder Chairman of our company, Shri IA Modi, believed in providing affordable medicines for the masses through innovative and cutting-edge research & development.

“This discovery will open new avenues against resistant organisms and is very timely in view of global concerns about rapidly growing bacterial resistance against current antibiotics. Cadila Pharmaceutical’s collaboration with Helperby can help mankind win the battle against the microbes and hopefully save millions of lives in coming years.”

The licensing agreement will allow Cadila Pharmaceuticals to develop Helperby’s lead compound plus one other, with the aim of bringing the first product to market in around 18 months.

Helperby has a further seven compounds at early stages of their development and is seeking further collaborative pharmaceutical partners to bring these resistance breakers to market.



Taches grow across campus



Many staff and students at St George’s have been taking part in Movember when men are sponsored to grow facial hair for charity and all money raised goes towards men’s health issues.

Movember has become an annual intuition world-wide and an opportunity for men to indulge their favourite styles of moustache, be it the Mexican bandit look from Spaghetti westerns or the archetypal RAF flying ace handlebars version.

Students’ Union president Mo Amer, has the perfect name for Movember and is taking part along with other members of the sabbatical committee.

He said: “My dad loved it as he has a moustache and he wanted one of his sons to have one too.

“As a medic and at St George’s, it’s even more important for us to be support men’s health issues.”

Martin Watson, aged 33, of Hastings, who is in his first year of a Paramedic Practioner course, is one of 20 at Hastings Ambulance Station taking part this year in Movember.

He said: “This is the first year I’ve done it. Physically it’s unusual to get used to but you get a nod and a smile form people in the streets. It’s all good fun.”

As a South east Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust Clinical team Leader, he sees movember as another way of helping people.

Matt Harrison, 30, who is a final year physio student and has headed the physio team at the Robert Low Sports Centre for the last couple of years, has been doing Movember for the last six years and has again this year.

He says attitudes have changed over that time. He explained: “to grow a moustache is a really easy thing to do but it can make a big difference to raise awareness for Men's health issues, just by having one it's a conversation starter to help get men thinking about their health, that I think as a gender we're not great at doing.  Plus the money raised definitely saves lives.

“The first year was a bit weird as people looked at you a bit suspiciously.

“But now it has become quite commonplace everyone seems to know why you are sporting a moustache. I get nods of acknowledgement form others with moustaches so it’s now become a not so secret group. It’s a great caused and I am hoping to raise £200 this year.”

Eoghan Beaton, who works in the Exams team, is taking for the second year.

He said: “I do feel that my moustache has added a certain mystique to my look, I definitely feel more of a grown up although sometimes I just feel that people just see the moustache and not the real me!

“All in all, I am however happy to receive the looks of disdain to raise awareness and a little money for a very good cause.”

Howard Wheeler

Plandaí Biotechnology's move into medical marijuana research gets validation with new study
14 November 2013 - Wall Street Journal

'Plandaí Biotechnology, Inc. (OTCQB: PLPL) and its subsidiary, Cannabis Biosciences, Inc., received a strong validation for their move into medical marijuana research from a recently published study. Plandaí formed its marijuana subsidiary for the purpose of developing and testing a new Phytofare(TM) botanical extract derived from cannabis.

The validation comes in the form of a new study done by a team at St. George's, University of London and published in the journal Anticancer Research.'