Drug repositioning is an innovation stream of pharmaceutical development that offers advantages for drug developers along with safer medicines for patients. Several drugs have been successfully repositioned to a new indication, with the most prominent of them being viagra and thalidomide, which have generated historically high revenues. In line with these developments, most of the recent articles and reviews on repositioning are focused on success stories, leaving behind the challenges that repositioned compounds have on the way to the clinic. Here, I analyze repositioning as a business opportunity for pharmaceutical companies, weighing both challenges and opportunities of repositioning. In addition, I suggest extended profiling as a lower-risk cost-effective repositioning model for pharmaceutical companies and elucidate the novel collaborative business opportunities that help to realize repositioning of shelved and marketed compounds.
Although there are many examples of contemporary directional selection, evidence for responses to selection that match predictions are often missing in quantitative genetic studies of wild populations. This is despite the presence of genetic variation and selection pressures – theoretical prerequisites for the response to selection. This conundrum can be explained by statistical issues with accurate parameter estimation, and by biological mechanisms that interfere with the response to selection. These biological mechanisms can accelerate or constrain this response. These mechanisms are generally studied independently but might act simultaneously. We therefore integrated these mechanisms to explore their potential combined effect. This has implications for explaining the apparent evolutionary stasis of wild populations and the conservation of wildlife. Recent discoveries at the intersection of quantitative genetics and evolutionary ecology are challenging our views on the potential of wild populations to respond to selection. Multiple biological mechanisms can disconnect genetic variation from the response to selection in the wild. We highlight areas for future research. We provide an integrative framework that can be used to qualitatively assess the combined influence of these mechanisms on the response to selection.
The retrieval of a memory places it into a plastic state, the result of which is that the memory can be disrupted or even enhanced by experimental treatment. This phenomenon has been conceptualised within a framework of memories being reactivated and then reconsolidated in repeated rounds of cellular processing. The reconsolidation phase has been seized upon as crucial for the understanding of memory stability and, more recently, as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of disorders such as post-traumatic stress and drug addiction. However, little is known about the reactivation process, or what might be the adaptive function of retrieval-induced plasticity. Reconsolidation has long been proposed to mediate memory updating, but only recently has this hypothesis been supported experimentally. Here, the adaptive function of memory reconsolidation is explored in more detail, with a strong emphasis on its role in updating memories to maintain their relevance.
Most genome-wide assays provide averages across large numbers of cells, but recent technological advances promise to overcome this limitation. Pioneering single-cell assays are now available for genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome profiling. Here, we describe how these different dimensions can be combined into multi-omics assays that provide comprehensive profiles of the same cell.
Caspase-3 has been identified as a key mediator of neuronal programmed cell death. This protease plays a central role in the developing nervous system and its activation is observed early in neural tube formation and persists during postnatal differentiation of the neural network. Caspase-3 activation, a crucial event of neuronal cell death program, is also a feature of many chronic neurodegenerative diseases. This traditional apoptotic function of caspase-3 is challenged by recent studies that reveal new cell death-independent roles for mitochondrial-activated caspase-3 in neurite pruning and synaptic plasticity. These findings underscore the need for further research into the mechanism of action and functions of caspase-3 that may prove useful in the development of novel pharmacological treatments for a diverse range of neurological disorders.
Cellular responses to DNA damage are crucial for maintaining homeostasis and preventing the development of cancer. Our understanding of the DNA-damage response has evolved: whereas previously the focus was on DNA repair, we now appreciate that the response to DNA lesions involves a complex, highly branched signaling network. Defects in this response lead to severely debilitating, cancer-predisposing ‘genomic instability syndromes’. Double strand breaks (DSBs) in DNA are potent triggers of the DNA-damage response, which is why they are used to study this pathway. The chief transducer of the DSB signal is the nuclear protein kinase ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM). Genetic, biochemical and structural studies have recently provided insights into the ATM-mediated DSB response, reshaping our view of this signaling pathway while raising new questions.
DNA methylation in the form of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) is a key epigenetic regulator in mammals, and the dynamic balance between methylation and demethylation impacts various processes from development to disease. The recent discovery of the enzymatic generation and removal of the oxidized derivatives of 5mC, namely 5-hydroxymethylcysotine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC), and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC) in mammalian cells has led to a paradigm shift in our understanding of the demethylation process. Interestingly, emerging evidence indicates that these DNA demethylation intermediates are dynamic and could themselves carry regulatory functions. Here, we discuss 5hmC, 5fC, and 5caC as new epigenetic DNA modifications that could have distinct regulatory functions in conjunction with potential protein partners.
Forebrain dopamine circuitry has traditionally been studied by two largely independent specialist groups: students of Parkinson's disease who study the nigrostriatal dopamine system that originates in the substantia nigra (SN), and students of motivation and addiction who study the role of the mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine systems that originate in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). The anatomical evidence for independent nigrostriatal and mesolimbic dopamine systems has, however, long been obsolete. There is now compelling evidence that both nominal “systems” participate in reward function and addiction. Electrical stimulation of both SN and VTA is rewarding, blockade of glutamatergic or cholinergic input to either SN or VTA attenuates the habit-forming effects of intravenous cocaine, and dopamine in both nigrostriatal and mesocorticolimbic terminal fields participates in the defining property of rewarding events: the reinforcement of memory consolidation. Thus, the similarities between nigrostriatal and mesolimbic dopamine systems can be as important as their differences.
The crystal structures of three nuclear receptor (NR) complexes have emerged to reveal their multidomain architectures on DNA. These pictures provide unprecedented views of interfacial couplings between the DNA-binding domains (DBDs) and ligand-binding domains (LBDs). The detailed pictures contrast with previous interpretations of low-resolution electron microscopy (EM) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) data, which had suggested a common architecture with noninteracting DBDs and LBDs. Revisiting both historical and recent interpretations of NR architecture, we invoke new principles underlying higher-order quaternary organization and the allosteric transmission of signals between domains. We also discuss how NR architectures are being probed in living cells to understand dimerization and DNA-binding events in real time.