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Significant progress has been made to roll out vaccination programmes worldwide since the first preventive HPV vaccine was approved little over a decade ago. With the UK Government set to extend HPV vaccination to boys from 2019, we track the key developments in HPV prevention.

Also, we explore whether a hereditary form of Alzheimer’s disease could hold the key to developing an effective treatment, examine if a unique ‘brain map’  could predict a drug’s effectiveness, and find out how combination therapy could help pharma companies developing LPL enhancing drugs to design more successful trials.

Plus, following the shock decision by Express Scripts to drop several ‘untouchable’ drugs, including treatments for haemophilia, hepatitis C and HIV, we explore the formulas used by mega pharmacies to determine which drugs to sell. And finally, we ask whether a lack of female participants is affecting heart disease trial results.

In this issue

HPV vaccines: a decade of progress
The history of vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV) is not a long one, with the US Food and Drug Administration approving the first preventive HPV vaccine just over a decade ago. Since then, significant progress has been made to roll out vaccination programmes worldwide. With the UK recently announcing that it will extend HPV vaccination to boys from 2019, Charlotte Edwards examines major developments in the vaccine’s history.
Read the article here.

Hereditary Alzheimer’s: could rare genes hold the clue to a cure?
Those living with dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease (DIAD) make up less than 1% of the Alzheimer’s population, but the genes of these individuals could provide a deeper understanding of the disease a whole. Elliot Gardner finds out more about DIAD and the efforts of the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network.
Read the article here.

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Could a unique brain fingerprint predict a drug’s effectiveness?       
The Montreal Neurological Institute has created a novel approach to treatment neurodegenerative disorders, called a personalised therapeutic intervention fingerprint. This personalised medicine breakthrough could revolutionise how a whole variety of diseases are treated, significantly reduce the cost of clinical trials and accelerate drug discovery, as Allie Nawrat finds out.
Read the article here.

Genetic studies: a powerful tool for testing combination therapies
A genetic study by the Medical Research Council has suggested that combining lipoprotein lipase (LPL) enhancers with cholesterol lowering agents further reduces the risk of heart attacks than cholesterol lowering agents alone. Allie Nawrat finds out how this discovery could help pharma companies developing LPL enhancing drugs to design more successful trials.
Read the article here.

The Express Scripts story: super-pharmacies and the US drug industry
Express Scripts, the largest independent manager of pharmacy benefits in the US, recently updated the formula it uses to decide which drugs to sell, a move that resulted in some surprises for big pharma. Analysts fear the move will hit some of the major drug companies where it hurts, but how do the mega pharmacies make these decisions and what does it tell us about the strategies that ultimately guide the US drug industry? Sally Turner reports.
Read the article here.

Is a lack of female participants skewing heart disease trial results?
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in men and women, but women are commonly under-represented in clinical trials. Could this negatively impact the treatment of female patients, and if so, what is the industry doing to encourage more female participants to enrol? Abi Millar finds out.
Read the article here.

Why the German Centre for Diabetes Research changed its approach to handling data
How can life science researchers study large datasets and uncover potential new insights with the power of graph databases. CEO of graph database company Neo4j Emil Eifrem has plans to use this talent to change the way we discover new drugs.
Read the article here.

How digital innovation is helping to drive transformation in regulatory affairs
The role of regulatory affairs is pivotal in helping to bring new products to market swiftly, so in the pursuit of operational excellence it’s a sensible place to start when applying intelligent automation technologies. Venu Mallarapu of Cognizant Technology Solutions outlines the possibilities and the potential impact.
Read the article here.

Next issue preview

In the next issue of Pharma Technology Focus, we find out why top pharmaceutical companies are pulling out all the stops, even dropping prices, in order to get a piece of the Chinese pharmaceutical market, and following accusations that link the threat of superbugs resulting from antimicrobial resistance to antibiotic waste, we examine how drug firms should be disposing of their waste.

Also in this issue, we take a look at what can be done to improve the validation of scientific results that drive innovation in the pharma sector, explore a new initiative to design a global gateway that will help government procurement agencies access information on thousands of individual patents anywhere in the world, and speak to industry experts to find out how pharma companies can keep up with the rise of tech behemoths.

Plus, we profile an innovative new drug development concept, which uses video game technology to develop novel medicines in the digital world, find out if the global supply chain is prepared for the next pandemic, and examine a digital approach to securing the medical supply chain.