Molecular 'Nose' to Sniff Out New Medicines

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 3:01 pm    Post subject: Molecular 'Nose' to Sniff Out New Medicines Reply with quote

15th February 2008

Molecular 'Nose' to Sniff Out New Medicines

New technology being developed by scientists at two Scottish universities could help to make drug development much faster and cheaper.

Researchers at Glasgow and Strathclyde are developing a 'molecular nose' which will allow them to sniff out effective new medicines.

Involving more than 1000 sensors, the nose – or multiplexed sensor platform – is designed to detect how cells in the human body react to new drugs.

Only one in 30 drugs tested in clinical trials is finally used on patients so technology that could predict the effectiveness of drugs before they reach the clinical trial would avoid time consuming and costly trials on patients. By analysing how the components of human cells respond to different drugs, researchers will gain a better understanding of why failed drugs do not work.

“With the molecular nose, you could take a number of drugs that have known side effects and establish the signature patterns for the side effects which can therefore be avoided,” says Professor Walter Koch, lead researcher at the University of Glasgow.

“The nose will also identify the signature patterns of successful drugs which new drugs can imitate. This would create an efficient pre-screening system for drug development."

Professor Duncan Graham, co-investigator at Strathclyde, will provide a solution to measuring the signature patterns through the use of nanotechnology developed at the University's laboratories. He adds: "This is an excellent example of where the interaction between physical and life scientists has led to an ambitious project that will have significant implications for drug treatments."

Despite having an understanding of the parts of a cell, scientists do not know how the different parts communicate with each other when reacting to stimulation. This means scientists are often unaware of why some drugs are more efficient than others, which can result in time-consuming and costly trial and error practices. By cutting out this process the molecular nose could save the drugs industry millions of pounds and many years of development work. It will also reduce the requirement for animal experimentation as many drug effects can be predicted beforehand.

By applying external stimulation, such as heat, the sensors on the molecular nose will monitor 1000 different responses from the components of the cell allowing researchers to follow the communication patterns of each cell.


Story posted: 15th February 2008

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