Treatments for diabetes, smoking, Alzheimer's disease and lung cancer are just a few of the potentially lifesaving cures Scientific American has chosen to highlight in this year's roundup of drugs you've never heard of, despite their potentially huge impact on global health.
These 10 treatments, all of which could significantly impact global health and wellness, are currently running the last gauntlet a pharmaceutical must run before it becomes available to the public--the clinical trial. During this trial researchers test the drug on humans, carefully observing its side effects as well as its overall effectiveness.
All of the following substances have already passed phase I safety trials and are proceeding into phase II or III efficacy and toxicity trials. (One caveat: any therapy in development runs a risk of failure, even after passing phase III.)
A number of these trials represent completely novel classes of therapy, such as employing fragments of RNA that interfere with problem genes or developing vaccines meant to quell drug addiction.
Some of this year's candidates target the usual rogues' gallery of killers, such as malaria, lung cancer and HIV.
Many of the disorders targeted by the following treatments are becoming increasingly widespread. These disorders include diabetes, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects will someday afflict one in three children born today; Alzheimer's, which has become more common as life expectancy has increased; and the dengue viruses, which are causing larger and more frequent epidemics, especially in the tropics.
One of this year's drugs even has the potential to serve as a safer replacement for the painkiller Vioxx.
A disease afflicting half a million people annually requires a special kind of vaccine