Editor’s focus: Filling the voids

Looking at some of the progress in areas we had been hoping to see more from in the past, including schizophrenia, antibiotics and artificial intelligence

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Throughout my years of writing this editorial column and peppering my insights and concerns into other pieces in this magazine as well, I have periodically opined about the lack of investigational drugs for largely unmet conditions—or conditions that we once had a handle on, which are now getting away from us.
Just last year, in October, I talked about schizophrenia and the dearth of material that I see about R&D, much less trials, for therapeutics that would directly and adequately treat the condition. Lo and behold, not long after that we had a “Daily News” article on our website posted by Associate Editor Mel J. Yeates titled “SEP-363856 successful against schizophrenia” talking about a pivotal Phase 2 study that evaluated the efficacy and safety of a novel psychotropic agent for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia that met its primary endpoint.
And then there was an article that I prepared for our DDNews Online e-newsletter titled “A light at the end of the tunnel for schizophrenia?” just last month, which talked about new findings with regard to the mechanisms and causes of schizophrenia that might help inform drug discovery and development researchers in creating novel therapeutics in the future or figuring out how to make existing drugs used for schizophrenia work better.
And in this issue, in our “Discovery” section, an article about schizophrenia-related work from the Chinese Academy of Sciences penned by Managing Editor Kelsey Kaustinen.
Now, I won’t take any mystical credit for “speaking things into action” because I am no wizard or deity, but it is nice to see my concern so quickly followed by signs that things are improving. And I do believe there might be one or two other schizophrenia-related emails in my queue that I haven’t tapped yet.
Antibiotics, too, have been a thorn in my psychological side for years, given that it has become such an unattractive field for many researchers and companies, viewed as not having enough potential for return on investment. And yet so many growing problems with antibiotic resistance demand that we get more options—and soon.
There, I see signs of progress and hope a bit more often, and in this issue we have another article in the “Discovery” section talking about research at Rutgers University related to antibiotic resistance, plus clinical trials results for an antibiotic from Paratek Pharmaceuticals called Nuzyra—a drug that the company just announced in October had received FDA approval, making it the first once-daily intravenous and oral antibiotic approved to treat pneumonia and skin infections in nearly 20 years.
And outside of the directly clinical realm, after years of lurking on the sidelines, artificial intelligence (AI)  has really been showing its mettle, so much so that we ran a Focus Feature last month on the topic. Even with the increasing attention that AI is getting and the strides it is making, I had worried I might not have enough material—but instead I ended up with so much that we have a sequel to that Focus Feature in this very issue.
Here’s to more voids being filled in the life sciences and pharma/biotech with regard to drug discovery and development. Even if I haven’t complained about them yet.

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