Glossary of Medical Terms

Glossary of Medical and Scientific terms

Amyloid plaques:  these are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease that are aggregates of misfolded beta-amyloid protein that form in the space between nerve cells and are toxic to the nerve cells, eventually killing them

Angiogenesis: is the formation of new blood vessels. Tumours need a dedicated blood supply to provide the oxygen and other essential nutrients they require in order to grow beyond a certain size. Without angiogenesis, a tumor cannot grow beyond a certain size

Castrate-resistant prostate cancer: progressive disease despite castrate levels of testosterone

Clinical trials: clinical trials are studies whereby trial participants have a diagnosis of cancer and volunteer to test a new treatment. Clinical trials compare a new treatment to standard one that is already available; a placebo; a different dose or to other comparators

Dementia: a general term for several diseases that affect memory, thinking and daily life and can eventually lead to death. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia but dementia also is a feature of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and repeated brain injury.

Diabetic retinopathy: continuously high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina leading to progressive loss of vision

EGFR: the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a protein on the surface of cells of epithelial origin that is activated by extra-cellular growth factors such as epidermal growth factor. Activated EGFR goes on to trigger multiple genes responsible for cell growth and function.  Cancer cells typically express high levels of EGFR

First-in-class: a first-in-class medication is a pharmaceutical that uses a "new and unique mechanism of action" to treat a particular medical condition. First-in-class status has no regulatory effect

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services responsible for protecting public health through the control and supervision of specific products, including pharmaceuticals.

Gene transcription factors: a large (~1500) family of cellular proteins responsible for turning individual genes on or off. Most genes require the effect of multiple transcription factors to be activated or repressed

Intellectual Property (IP): intellectual property laws protect the rights of small inventors and large corporations alike to guarantee “the first to invent” of various aspects of a drug candidate’s development, the exclusive right to the patents. The primary, well-known function of an IP right is to give its holder a competitive advantage in its commercial activities, by preventing unauthorised exploitation by thirds. IP rights provide with powerful weapons to compete with much larger companies

Malignant: cancerous

Malignancy: a cancerous tumour that can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body

Metastatic: describes cancer that has spread from where it started to another part of the body

Metastasis: the spread of cancer from where it started to another part of the body. Also used to describe a secondary cancer formed when cancer cells spread in this way

Proof of concept: proof of concept or PoC refers to early clinical drug development, conventionally divided into the phases of clinical research 

Tau tangles: another hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease. Tau proteins inside nerve fibres cling to each other forming tangles that block the transmission of impulses along the fibres

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA): the regulatory body that governs therapeutic goods in Australia

The Tumour Microenvironment (TME): is the environment immediately surrounding a tumour. The TME includes blood vessels, immune cells, nerves, fibroblasts and signalling molecules

VEGF: vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a critical mediator of blood vessel formation.

vimentin: has a role in normal cell health but increased vimentin expression has been associated with tumour progression and metastasis in many human cancers and other diseases

Wet AMD:  wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss in the elderly and occurs when irregular, leaky blood vessels grow under the region of the eye (macula) responsible for central vision