A pharmaceutical scientist explains how he knows where drugs go in the body

How does he know that when you take aspirin for a headache, the aspirin goes to your head and relieves the pain?

The short answer is no: molecules cannot transport themselves through the body, and they cannot control where they end up.

However, researchers have chemically altered drug molecules so that they bind to where we want them to and weak to where we don’t.

Pharmaceutical products contain more than active drugs that act directly on the body. Medicines also contain “inactive ingredients” or molecules that enhance stability, digestion, taste and other qualities that allow the drug to do its job.

For example, the aspirin you take contains ingredients that will prevent the pill from breaking during delivery and help it break down in your body.

As a pharmaceutical scientist, I have been researching drug delivery for the last 30 years. In other words, developing methods and developing non-pharmaceutical components will help the body get the medicine it needs.

To better understand how different drugs are developed, let us take a look at how the drug first enters the body and how it ends.

How drugs are absorbed into the body

When you swallow a pill, it first dissolves in your stomach and intestines until the drug molecules are absorbed into your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, it can travel around the body to reach various organs and tissues.

Drug molecules act on the body by binding to various receptors in the cells that trigger a specific reaction.

Although drugs are designed to target specific receptors to give the desired effect, it is impossible to prevent them from continuing to circulate in the bloodstream and binding to untargeted sites that cause unwanted side effects.

Drug molecules circulating in the blood also break down over time and are excreted in the urine. A classic example is how quickly your kidneys clear asparagus acid because of the strong odor in your urine after you eat asparagus. Similarly, multivitamins usually contain riboflavin or vitamin B2, which turns light yellow when urine is cleared.

Because the chemical molecules of a drug vary in how effectively it passes through the intestinal mucosa, some of the drugs you ingest will never be absorbed and excreted in your feces.

Because not all medicines are absorbed, some medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure and allergies, are taken over and over again to replace drug molecules and maintain adequate levels of the drug in the blood. a body.

Delivery of drugs to the right place

An effective way to inject drugs into the bloodstream is to inject them directly into a vein, rather than tablets and pills. In this way, all the medicine circulates throughout the body and prevents stomach upset.

Many drugs administered intravenously are “biological” or “biotechnological drugs” that contain substances derived from other organisms.

The most common of these are killer proteins, which bind to tumor cells and are a type of cancer drug called monoclonal antibodies. These drugs are injected directly into a vein, because your stomach can’t tell the difference between digesting a medicinal protein and digesting the protein in a cheeseburger.

In other cases, drugs that require very high concentrations to be effective, such as antibiotics for severe infections, can only be given by infusion.

Increasing the concentration of the drug helps to make sure that enough molecules are bound to the right sites to have a therapeutic effect, which increases the risk of binding to the wrong sites and side effects.

One way to get high concentrations of the drug in the right place is to apply it where necessary, such as rubbing ointment on skin rashes or using eye drops for allergies. Although some drug molecules are eventually absorbed into the bloodstream, they are sufficiently diluted that the amount of drug that reaches other sites is very small and is unlikely to cause side effects.

Similarly, the inhaler delivers the drug directly to the lungs and does not affect the rest of the body.

patient suitability

Finally, a key aspect of designing all medications is to ensure that patients receive the right amount of medication at the right time.

Because many people find it difficult to remember to take medication several times a day, researchers try to develop a drug formula that should be taken in a day or less.

Similarly, pills, inhalers, or nasal sprays are more convenient than infusions, so go to a clinic and go to a clinic that specializes in injecting your hands.

The less stressful and expensive the medication, the more likely it is that patients will be able to take the medication when needed.

However, sometimes infusions or injections are the only way to use certain medications.

Despite all the science that understands the disease in order to develop an effective drug, it all depends on the patient how it works.

Tom Ancordoki is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the Anshutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado.

This article was reprinted from The Conversation magazine under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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