Using Technology to Predict Drug Side Effects

Using Technology to Predict Drug Side Effects

Using Technology to Predict Drug Side Effects

On September 17, 2012, the FDA released a consumer report that describes several kinds of developing technologies that could possibly revolutionize the way side effects are detected before a drug distributed to the public. 

A large amount of drugs have been released in the last decade with unforeseen side effects.  One example is COX-2 inhibitors.  These are anti-inflammatory drugs that were initially designed to alleviate arthritis pain while putting little strain on the stomach and intestines.  The drugs were later found to cause heart attacks and strokes, and specifically, the drugs Vioxx and Bextra were taken off the market in 2004 and 2005. 

One of the new pieces of technology is the “human on a chip” being developed by the FDA and federal Defense Research Projects Agency.  The agencies hope to use human cells to develop different chips that can react the same was as 10 different organs.   

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering under Harvard University has recently developed the “Lung-on-a-Chip” that is made of lung tissue and other materials that mimic the way actual lung would react to a drug. 

The FDA and its National Center for Toxicological Research has developed a long term strategy for creating tests that can accurately predict how the human body will react to certain products.  The strategy includes increased funding and research in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, bioimaging, mathematical modeling, and vitro testing. 

Vicki Seyfert-Margolis, Ph.D., a senior advisor for the FDA, states, “All drugs have side effects… [but the goal is to] predict side effects earlier and better.”  There is a massive amount of work, but the increasing understanding of the human genome will likely generate a huge range of technology in the medical field in coming years. 

The FDA hopes to bridge conflicts and interests with animal rights activists by harnessing the new technology as well. 

Source: Food and Drug Administration




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