Abuse of illegal drugs is widespread among young people, especially in the so-called “dance club scene” or “rave scene”. Severe and even fatal poisonings have been attributed to the consumption of such drugs of abuse. The actions against these drugs by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and subsequently by the Government of Japan have gone some way to reducing the potential harm caused by these substances. However, alternative products have been advertised on a number of websites. During our careful surveillance of illegal drugs in 2011, we found seven unregulated drugs advertised. This means that we have an obligation to continue strict surveillance of illegal drugs and to structure a system of temporary bans on illegal drugs.
Thirty-two psychotropic substances (31 compounds and one plant) have been controlled as designated substances (Shitei-yakubutsu) in Japan by the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law since April 2007. Although the trafficking of these drugs has decreased because of this regulation, new designer drugs (synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones) have appeared, one after the other. As of October 2011, 40 compounds had been newly added to this category. Analytical methods have become more complicated due to this increase in the number of designated substances. Moreover, many reference substances for such designated substances and other new designer drugs are not commercially available. For the reasons stated above, a lot of time and effort is required to analyze the illegal drug products available on the market.
A method of prediction of biological activities of chemicals has been developed as a new drug-discovery technology. In recent years, a wide distribution of non-controlled psychotropic substances has become a serious problem in Japan. It takes a long time to evaluate their bioactivity in vitro and in vivo. Computer simulation could regulate new designer drugs in a short time. Prediction of biological activities of these drugs was performed by quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) and pharmacophore-fingerprint method. A preliminary demonstration to predict the bioactivity of 4-methcathinone, a cathinone derivative that is widely distributed, by two methods is described herein.
Prior to the designation of illegal drugs (psychoactive drugs) by prefectural regulations, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government conducts surveys on the risk of drugs, reports the results to the governor through the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Advisory Committee on Illegal Drugs, an affiliated organization, and provides the central government with information. The Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health conducts identification of the constituents of drugs and biological effect tests to help the committee analyze and assess information on the risks of drugs. Narcotics and stimulants increase the concentrations of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, i.e., neurotransmitters, in the presynaptic clefts, exerting an excitatory effect. In the postsynaptic region, these neurotransmitters are considered to directly combine with the receptors and activate guanine nucleotide-binding proteins, causing activation. We have developed nine types (categorized into three groups) of simple, high-throughput measurement systems and examined their measurement methods. The systems are designed to assess the following properties of drugs: effects of: 1) inhibiting reuptake; 2) stimulating the release of neurotransmitters in the presynaptic region; and 3) activating G proteins in the postsynaptic region. The systems provide useful information in that they allow searches for the effects of a variety of psychoactive substances that are expected to become widespread, e.g., designer drugs, hallucinogenic plants and synthetic cannabinoids; they also allow you to conduct a test using micrograms of a drug, facilitating testing even when it is not available in a large quantity.
The neuro-behavioral observation scorebook that improved the previous observation methods of Irwin was followed, the test material was administered to 5 mice per each group, and the mean value of the obtained score was determined. The behavior of a normal animal was assumed to be point 0, animals showing suppressive behavior were scored in the minus region, and animals that showed excitement behavior were scored in the plus region. Each score was divided into three stages, according to the level of strength of the biological effect. The score of each observation item was totaled, and the level of the strength of the biological effect in the item was judged according to its mean value. These test methods of neuro-behavioral observations we proposed were able to detect the biological effects of a drug simply and promptly, and contributed sufficient data to support an administrative measure aimed at anticipating and improving the prevention of health damage in humans by non-regulated drugs from a scientific perspective. Recently, we developed a method of serial measurement of the quantity of monoamine in the mouse central nervous system by microdialysis, and performed it. The Kanagawa Prefectural Institute of Public Health conducted a study of the biological effect of non-regulated drugs. A characteristic here is what they examined about drug-dependency other than observing the behavior of the animal.
In recent years, many analogs of narcotics have been widely distributed as easily available psychotropic substances and have become a serious problem in Japan. To counter the spread of these non-controlled substances, the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law in Japan was amended in 2006 to establish a new category; Designated Substances in order to more strictly control these substances. In April 2007, 31 compounds and 1 plant were first controlled as Designated Substances. Before 2007, the major compounds distributed in the Japanese illegal drug market were tryptamines, phenethylamines and piperazines. Alkyl nitrites, such as isobutyl nitrite and isopentyl nitrite, were also widely distributed. After they were listed as Narcotics or Designated Substances in 2007, these compounds, especially the tryptamines, quickly disappeared from the market. In their place, cathinone derivatives have been widely distributed, as well as different phenethylamines and piperazines. Additionally, in recent years, new herbal products containing synthetic cannabinoids have appeared globally. As at July 2012, 78 substances (including 1 plant; Salvia divinorum) were listed in the category of Designated Substances. They were 13 tryptamines, 17 phenethylamines, 11 cathinones, 4 piperazines, 23 synthetic cannabinoids, 6 alkyl nitrites, 3 other compounds and 1 plant. In this review, we show our survey of the spread of new designer drugs in Japan, focusing especially on synthetic cannabinoids and cathinone derivatives. Also, the prevalence and legal status of these substances in other countries will be presented.
Nanotechnology has had a great impact on science, technology, and society since 2000, and its applications in medicine are also progressing in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. In this review, international trends in nanomedicine regulation are introduced, including the definition of nanomedicines and the evaluation of liposomes and iron nanoparticles.
A number of modified oligonucleotides prepared using a general chemical approach with the corresponding phosphoramidite units have been synthesized to evaluate their functions. An alternative enzymatic method using the corresponding nucleoside triphosphates could also be used. Since this approach affords long-chain sequences from readily available natural DNA templates, if successful it would be useful in numerous biotechnologies. This review summarizes our current results of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of 4′-thioDNA using 4′-thio-dNTPs and gene silencing using the resulting 4′-thioDNAs as a template arising from 4′-thioDNA-directed transcription in mammalian cells.
The current method of antibody production is mainly the hybridoma method, in which mice are immunized with an excess amount of antigen for a short period to promote activation and proliferation of B-lymphocytes producing the antibodies of interest. Because of the excess antigen, those producing low-affinity antibodies are activated. In contrast, human blood B-lymphocytes are activated through natural immune reactions, such as the reaction to infection. B-lymphocytes are stimulated repeatedly with a small amount of antigen, and thus only those producing high-affinity antibodies are activated. Consequently, the lymphocytes producing the high-affinity antibodies are accumulated in human blood. Therefore, human lymphocytes are an excellent source of high-affinity antibodies. Evec, Inc. has established a unique method to produce high-affinity antibodies from human lymphocytes using Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which induces the proliferation of B-lymphocytes. The method first induces the proliferation of B-lymphocytes from human blood using EBV, and then isolates those producing the antibodies of interest. The key features of the Evec technique are: 1) development of a lymphocyte library consisting of 150 donors' lymphocytes from which donors suited to develop the antibodies of interest can be selected in 4 days; and 2) development of a sorting method and cell microarray method for selecting lymphocyte clones producing the target antibodies. Licensing agreements have been concluded with European and Japanese pharmaceutical companies for two types of antibody. This paper describes Evec's antibody technology and experience in license negotiations with Mega Pharmacies.
In order to successfully apply drug delivery systems (DDS) to new chemical entities (NCEs), collaboration between medicinal chemists and formulation scientists is critical for efficient drug discovery. Formulation scientists have to use ‘language’ that medicinal chemists understand to help promote mutual understanding, and medicinal chemists and formulation scientists have to set up strategies to use suitable DDS technologies at the discovery phase of the programmes to ensure successful transfer into the development phase. In this review, strategies of solubilisation formulation for oral delivery, inhalation delivery, nasal delivery and bioconjugation are all discussed. For example, for oral drug delivery, multiple initiatives can be proposed to improve the process to select an optimal delivery option for an NCE. From a technical perspective, formulation scientists have to explain the scope and limitations of formulations as some DDS technologies might be applicable only to limited chemical spaces. Other limitations could be the administered dose and, cost, time and resources for formulation development and manufacturing. Since DDS selection is best placed as part of lead-optimisation, formulation scientists need to be involved in discovery projects at lead selection and optimisation stages. The key to success in their collaboration is to facilitate communication between these two areas of expertise at both a strategic and scientific level. Also, it would be beneficial for medicinal chemists and formulation scientists to set common goals to improve the process of collaboration and build long term partnerships to improve DDS.
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) and the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA) are responsible for appropriately implementing regulations and providing necessary instructions and advice so that patients have access to safer, more effective drugs. These responsibilities are essential missions of the MHLW/PMDA, although restrictions on drug use or development might be considered to be purely regulatory matters. In the genomic drug discovery era of the 21st century, it is expected that new, innovative drugs will be developed, although the reality can be slightly disturbing. The number of approvals of new molecular entities (NMEs) is only approximately 20 per year both in Japan and the USA and may reach an even lower level. In light of current drug development trends, drug delivery systems (DDS) for targeted therapy or personalized medicines as well as NMEs should be explored more proactively. To promote the development and evaluation of innovative DDS, the MHLW/PMDA considers it important to communicate smoothly among industry-government-academia from the very early stage of development. To promote this, the MHLW/PMDA launched regulatory affairs consultations on R&D strategy for drugs in July 2011. Innovative DDS require not only cutting-edge technology or materials but also extensions of existing pharmaceutical technology. It is most important for innovative DDS to benefit patients in practical clinical settings. The MHLW/PMDA encourages the relevant parties to develop a far-sighted strategy with this goal in mind.
Several respiratory infections are frequently induced by pathogenic microorganisms in lung epithelial lining fluid (ELF) and alveolar macrophages (AM). Then, two studies concerning designs of antimicrobial therapy systems of respiratory infections were carried out; one was the distribution mechanisms of three macrolide and ketolide antibiotics, clarithromycin (CAM), azithromycin (AZM) and telithromycin (TEL) in plasma, ELF and AM, and the other was the efficient drug delivery to AM by pulmonary administration of fluoroquinolone antibiotic, a ciprofloxacin (CPFX) incorporated into liposomes (CPFX-liposome). In the first study, the areas under drug concentration-time curves (AUCs) in ELF following oral administration of three macrolide and ketolide antibiotics to rats were significantly higher than AUCs in plasma, furthermore AUCs in AM significantly higher than AUCs in ELF. The high distribution of these antibiotics to the respiratory infection site is due to the transport from blood to ELF via MDR1 in lung epithelial cells as well as the uptake by AM. These antibiotics were taken up by AM via active transport system and the trapping in organelles. In the second study, drug delivery efficacy of CPFX-liposome to AM was particle size-dependent over the 100-1000 nm and then become constant at over 1000 nm by pulmonary aerosolization to rats. This result indicates that the most effective size is 1000 nm. Furthermore, the drug delivery efficacy of mannosylated CPFX-liposome (particle size: 1000 nm) was highly delivered to AM and antibacterial effects were significantly higher than those of unmodified CPFX-liposome. This review provides useful findings for microbial therapy systems of respiratory infections.
Cyclosporine A (CsA) has been widely used as an immunosuppressive agent, and recent outcomes from clinical studies are indicative of the potent therapeutic potential of CsA for chronic asthma and airway inflammation. The clinical use of CsA for airway inflammatory diseases is partly limited because of low oral bioavailability and severe systemic side effects. A number of CsA dosage forms have been proposed to overcome these drawbacks, for example, nebulizer formulation and metered-dose inhaler formulation for inhalation therapy, whereas these liquid formulations sometimes contain organic solvents and other solubilizers, leading to local irritant potency. In this context, our group developed a dry powder inhalation (DPI) system of CsA, employing a polymer-based amorphous solid dispersion (ASD) approach, for inhalation therapy on airway inflammations. There was marked improvement in dissolution behavior of the ASD formulation compared with that of an amorphous CsA. The new DPI system of CsA exhibited high dispersibility and suitable particle distribution for inhalation therapy. In vivo experiments demonstrated that inhaled DPI system of CsA attenuated inflammatory events in experimental asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) model rats as evidenced by a decrease of infiltrated granulocytes, and there was no excessive increase in systemic exposure of CsA at a pharmacologically effective dose, possibly leading to reduced systemic side effects. From these findings, combination use of CsA-loaded ASD and DPI systems might be a promising approach for the treatment of airway inflammatory diseases with improved pharmacodynamics and lower systemic exposure.
This review describes a synthesis of indole compounds using multifunctional synthons. The multifunctional synthons, trienes and gramines, were respectively synthesized using Pd-catalyzed tandem cyclization/cross-coupling reaction of indolylborate with vinyl bromide, and reaction of indolylcuprate with iminium chloride. As an application of the multifunctional synthons to the indole alkaloids synthesis, we accomplished the total synthesis of ellipticine, 9-methoxyellipticine, 9-hydroxyellipticine, tetrahydroellipticine, μ-alkaloid B, μ-alkaloid D, calothrixin A, calothrixin B, tubifoline, and yuehchukene. We have also developed 6π-electrocyclization of hexatrienes catalyzed by Cu(I) trifluoromethanesulfonate toluene complexe, which is unprecedented.
Hypertension and oxidant stress predispose to the onset and progression of arteriosclerotic diseases. In this study, the components of two kinds of porcine liver hydrolysates (LH-I and LH-II) were analyzed, and the antioxidant effects and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibiting effects of LH-I and LH-II were examined in vitro. Furthermore, the effects of LH-I and LH-II on the blood pressure were examined in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). The results showed that peptides and amino acids accounted for 70% or more of the constituents of both LH-I and LH-II. The results of gel filtration HPLC showed that most of the nitrogen-containing components were peptides or amino acids with molecular weights of 6000 or less. The DPPH radical scavenging activities of LH-I and LH-II were 55.6 and 38.1 μM Trolox Equivalent/g, respectively. The IC50 values for the ACE-inhibiting activity of LH-I and LH-II were 0.18 and 0.31 mg/mL, respectively. Oral administration of 1 g/rat of LH-I or LH-II to SHR resulted in significant lowering of the blood pressure. These findings indicate that both LH-I and LH-II have antioxidant activity and ACE-inhibiting activity. Moreover, both exerted a blood pressure-lowering effect in SHR. The antioxidant activity and ACE-inhibiting activity of LH-I and LH-II are presumed to be based on the actions of the component peptides.
Insulin resistance associated with visceral fat obesity has been suggested to be the pathological basis of metabolic syndrome. Many studies have demonstrated increased oxidant stress in diabetic patients and animal models of diabetes mellitus. In this study, the effect of liver hydrolysate administration on the blood glucose was examined in SHR/NDmcr-cp (SHR-cp) rats that show spontaneously occurring metabolic syndrome-like abnormalities. The SHR-cp rats were fed diets containing 5% liver hydrolysate for 12 weeks, and the fasting blood glucose and HbA1c were determined every 3 weeks. After administration of the liver hydrolysate-containing feed for 12 weeks, an oral glucose tolerance test was conducted and the plasma angiotensin II (AngII) concentrations were determined. The liver hydrolysate administration had no effect on the blood insulin levels in the oral glucose tolerance test, but significantly inhibited the d-glucose-induced increases of the blood glucose levels. Furthermore, the liver hydrolysate had almost no effect on the fasting blood glucose level, but tended to inhibit the increase of HbA1c. The plasma AngII concentration after the 12-week administration of liver hydrolysate remained significantly lower than that in the control group. These results indicate that a component of liver hydrolysate inhibits d-glucose-induced increase of the blood glucose level, and may improve insulin resistance. The angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibiting effect and antioxidant effect of liver hydrolysate may be involved in this effect.
We have discussed the essential property for periodontal disease medication using protein, such as recombinant human basic fibroblast growth factor (rhbFGF). In our previous study, the criteria of thickener for the medication, viscosity, flowability etc., were set. The aim of this study was to evaluate the physical and chemical effect of concomitant use of general dental drug or device on thickener properties for the clinical use of viscous rhbFGF formulation. Viscous formulation was prepared with six cellulose derivatives, two types hydroxy propyl cellulose (HPC), three types hydroxy ethyl cellulose (HEC) and methyl cellulose (MC). Antibiotic ointment, local anesthetic, bone graft substitute, agent for gargle and mouthwashes, were chosen as general dental drug and device. These drugs and device were mixed with the viscous formulations and the change of viscosity and flowability, the remaining ratio of rhbFGF were evaluated. When the various thickener solutions were mixed with the liquid drugs, viscosity and flowability did not changed much. However, in the case of MC solution, viscous property declined greatly when MC solution was mixed with cationic surfactant for gargle. The flowabilities of thickener solutions were declined with insoluble bone graft. The stabilities of rhbFGF in thickener solutions were no problem for 24 hours even in the case of mixing with dental drug or device. Our findings suggested that the viscous rhbFGF formulations prepared in this research were not substantially affected by the concomitant use of dental drug or device, especially the formulation with HPC or HEC was useful.
The combined effect of terpinen-4-ol, the main component of tea tree oil, and capric acid against mycelial growth of Candida albicans and murine oral candidiasis was evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Mycelial growth of C. albicans was estimated by the Cristal violet method. Combination of these compounds revealed a potent synergistic inhibition of growth. Therapeutic efficacy of the combination was evaluated microbiologically in murine oral candidiasis, and its application of the compounds clearly demonstrated therapeutic activity. Based on these results, the combined agent of terpinen-4-ol and capric acid was discussed as a possible candidate for oral candidiasis therapy.
In March 2012, the first students, finishing the newly introduced 6-year-course of pharmaceutical education, have graduated and gone out into the world. At this point, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) is going to revise the model core curriculum of pharmaceutical education to be more suited for educating students to achieve their goal of becoming the clinical pharmacist standard defined by the revised School Education Act. Here we report the self-evaluation study based on the survey using questionnaire about a sense of achievement with Visual Analog Scales, regarding the fundamental quality as a pharmacist standard proposed by the Professional Activities Committee in the MEXT. The sample size of survey was about 600 of students studying in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Josai International University (JIU) and the survey was carried out during the period of March-April in 2012. The study suggested that the majority of graduates were satisfied with the new education system and marked as a well-balanced quality to be a pharmacist standard, after completing the 6-year pharmaceutical education based on “the model core-curriculum”. It would be worthwhile to perform this kind of survey continuously to monitor the student's self-evaluation of a sense of achievement to verify the effectiveness of 6-year-course pharmaceutical education based on the newly establishing core curriculum in Japan.