We meet in Branford, CT, about once every 4-6 weeks and topics discussed range from physical sciences, to life sciences and social sciences. A knowledge of the topic being discussed is not required, nor is there any membership requirement or age restriction. Perhaps the only requirement is curiosity and a thirst for knowledge! Science and technology are integral to every aspect of life - history, geography, humanities, music - everything.
Now for a piece of excellent news for Tilde Cafe: as of January 23, 2009 you can find a link to us on the science cafes website maintained by WGBH Educational Foundation - WGBH is the public television station out of Boston, and produces NOVA among many other fantastic shows. Tilde Cafe is the only listed science cafe in CT, and the only one between NYC and Boston!
As of July 2014, the IRS has recognized Tilde Cafe as a 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations.
© 2009 Deepti Pradhan and Tilde Cafe
December 14, 2014
Looking at the wheel (molecule) differently
While the plural of anecdote is not data, there definitely is a trend where weather eases up for Tilde Cafe events! Yesterday was a sunny, precipitation free, but cold day and we had a good number of people come in to learn about drug repurposing.
In September 2000, 189 member nations of the UN pledged to free the world from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations; the pledge was charted out as eight millenium development goals to be met by 2015 (MDG 2015). One of these goals, goal 6, is to "Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases by 2015". This is not a small task, and with a little over a year left until the end of 2015, a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the diseases can lead to a more thoughtful approach to curing and preventing them. There are 17 diseases on the list of "other diseases", and perhaps those that are of greatest concern are malaria, tuberculosis and dengue so efforts are underway towards targeting them.
Broadly speaking, diseases can be targeted using drugs that are either small molecules (such as aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid), or larger molecules like proteins (such as Avastin or bevacizumab). Most pharma companies have enormous libraries of compounds that never made it as drugs for the intended purpose - according to some reports, only 1 in 1000 molecules make it to the final stage where they are approved by the FDA for human use. Some of those that did not meet approval may have also gone through clinical trials but were rejected due to not meeting the expected levels of efficacy. So what can one do with this arsenal of molecules that never made the cut? Enter drug repurposing. In all likelihood, some of the abandoned small molecules - the 99.9% that didn't make it to the market for the intended disease, can be reviewed for their effect on the diseases listed in Goal 6 of the MDG 2015.
&By segregating the sidelined small molecules based on a variety of criteria such as shape or charge, and using them based on the molecular processes that are impacted by these diseases, it is possible to test large numbers quickly in a laboratory setting, and to narrow them down to the most promising few to proceed to clinical trials and approvals. Further, since some of the 17 diseases also occur in animals, lessons learned from current treatment of affected animals can be applied to focusing on the most effective therapies for the human disease - something which was discussed in the last cafe on dogs; the converse is also possible.
With a concerted effort involving academia, industry and non-profit organizations even more vigorously than before, achieving MDG 2015 goal 6 is not necessarily a pie-in-the-sky, because it is much easier and probably more effective to put existing resources to other and/or better use, than to develop resources from scratch. Thank you, Jerry, for a thought provoking afternoon - and for driving down from New York, expressly for Tilde Cafe!
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