Science is awesome

Not exactly OMG BREAKING NEWS (it’s a couple of weeks old), but Schering-Plough has announced an interesting new drug candidate. A drug based on a substance from the bark of the magnolia tree is showing plenty of promise as an anti-clotting agent - that is, it could help prevent heart attacks and ischemic (clotting-type) stroke.

If you only click one link in this post, make it this one: the excellent _In The Pipeline _blog (previously on JRE) has an insider’s look at the development of the drug, which goes by the catchy name SCH 530348.

The WSJ’s Health Blog points out that it’s only in phase 2 trials at the moment, and success in phase 2 doesn’t guarantee success in phase 3. (E.G: torcetrapib, which looked like a blockbuster cholesterol drug for Pfizer, was shot down a couple of years ago in late phase 3. Terminating the project cost hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted R&D - and as much as 100 billion dollars in lost sales.)

The interesting thing about SCH 530348 is that it was originally found while searching for anti-Alzheimers drugs. It didn’t do squat for Alzheimers, but it was found to be extremely effective at controlling thrombin, a blood-clotting agent. That sort of high-volume screening of lots of drugs against lots of possible targets has only really been possible in the last decade or two.

Related: a magnolia tree in full bloom. Don’t munch on the bark, though.