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Developing medicines without side-effects
August 26, 2018, 2:57 pm
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A new technique to precisely target molecules within cells with required medication could prove to be safer, faster and without side-effects, say the team of researchers behind the new technique developed at the University of Virginia in the US.

Almost every drug that can treat disease has side-effects, either major or minor. Until now, drugs have targeted molecules in a very general way. If a molecule was thought to be harmful, researchers might try to develop a drug to block it entirely.

But scientists have known for some time that the same molecule does different things depending on their location within the cell. Side-effects usually occur when a drug that targets a molecule to prevent it from performing an undesired function also has the unintended consequence of stopping the molecule from doing its other duties in the cell, some of which could be enormously important.

Researchers behind the new technique were able to manipulate molecules from one compartment to another within individualized cells and thereby determine exactly which locations to target, while avoiding locations that could cause harmful side-effects.

The new technique would allow doctors to precisely target a particular molecule doing a specific function in an exact location, rather than crudely trying to block a molecule regardless of its many functions. This allows doctors to administer medicine tailored exactly to a patient's needs.

This could have wide ranging implications for different diseases, especially for cancers and neurological conditions such as autism and Alzheimer's. The technique will also speed up the development of new treatments by letting researchers more quickly understand what molecules are doing and which should be targeted.

 

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