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The in silico approach to drug development just got a taste of validation, thanks to some intriguing new research from University of California, San Francisco. A drug cherry-picked with algorithms has behaved as expected: It’s helped shrink tumors in animal models.

The UCSF researchers have created a computational method to delve through enormous amounts of open-access data to find novel drugs — and also discover new ways to repurpose existing drugs. The work was just published in Nature Communications.


The UCSF methodology identified a long-used, FDA-approved drug called pyrvinium pamoate that’s used to treat parasites  — finding that it was able to shrink tumors in mice with hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer.

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