Archive for the ‘diagnostics’ Category

Adverse drug reactions

April 30, 2007

I wrote awhile ago about idiosyncratic reactions and the challenge they pose to drug researchers. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges which is some ways might be considered a blessing is that, thanks to extensive pre-clinical testing and rigid regulatory standards, the number of incidences of adverse drug reactions is very low making it difficult to develop a sufficient body of data to determine the mechanism of the reaction. However, at this point in time, we have methods for investigating the genetic profile of patients and thus the potential exists to correlate adverse reactions with a genetic signature, but only if we have enough patients to work with.

A commentary in the April 26th issue of Nature describes a potential solution to the problem of lack of data….increasing the rate of adverse event reporting and pooling the data in a global database.

And now for something completely different…..

For anyone out there who teaches first year organic chemistry…the discussion by Euripides G. Stephanou of the paper published by Williams et al., which describes the chiral make-up of compounds released from forests into the atmosphere might make an interesting side bar example when the subject of stereoisomers is introduced.


Spit on this chip and call me in the morning….

March 28, 2007

Home-based diagnostics could potentially become more widespread, allowing people to get a quick heads-up on the presence of disease while at the same time, allowing doctors to prioritize these patients accordingly. For example, we currently have home pregnancy tests which have proven to be very useful for family planning etc…

In the future, the priniciple of using simple tests that people could use at home if they are concerned about the presence of a certain disease could become more wide spread. Depending on the outcome of the test their family physician would more quickly and more efficiently be able to direct them to the appropriate avenue of follow-up.

An interesting paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, suggests that we might be close to realizing this goal. Using a small cartridge capable of “working up” saliva and carrying out a small scale-immunoassay, researchers were able to assay for the presence of MMP-8 (matrix metalloproteinase 8) a protein biomarker of periodontal disease. However, this assay has the potential to provide early diagnosis for a number of diseases beyond the immediate application for detecting periodontitis since there is an established link between periodontal disease and other malladies such as cardiovascular and pulmanary disease as well as the increased risk of premature birth.