Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Homing in on how drugs actually work in the body

For many drugs, the substance is swallowed or injected and spreads out and affects many body organs and processes. This can lead to so-called side effects.

Now researchers at Columbia have developed a computer algorithm that lets scientists "see" how the drug is producing the effects--the wanted and unwanted ones. This is published in Cell.

Mapping the genome  has allowed doctors to search the entire set of proteins that govern a drug's activity.

Their new approach is called DeMAND (Detecting Mechanisms of Action by Network Dysregulation).

First they create a computional model of the network of protein interactions in a diseased cell. Experiments are then performed to track gene expressions when exposed to the drug. Then DeMAND combines data from the model with that from the experiments to identify the proteins most affected.

It also can identify molecules affected in addition to the target molecules.

Still a work in progress, DeMAND has already found a drug that affects ovarian cancer could, because of the proteins involved, be used to treat bowel inflammation or rheumatoid arthritis, too.

Pretty neat. March on!

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