Researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) have developed a new approach to facilitate the formulation of safer, effective and side effect-free drugs.
The technique is based on the accurate targeting of cell molecules associated with the disease by manipulating the molecules in order to determine the exact location requiring treatment.
In addition, this targeted approach means the treatment avoid areas that can lead to harmful side effects.
University of Virginia School of Medicine researcher Julius Zhu said: “The problem with side effects is caused because you just could not distinguish the molecules doing different things in the same cell.
“If you blocked a molecule, you blocked it regardless of what it was doing. And that usually has unwanted side effects. Almost every drug that can treat disease has side effects, either major or minor, but usually they always have something.”
The researchers said that changing the location of molecules affects their function. They further believe that existing methods to block an entire harmful moleculecan lead to unwanted side effects.
Through the new approach, the team intends to target a specific molecule with a specific function in a specific location, therefore improving precision medicine by creating side effect-free drugs.
Expected to aid in treatments for multiple diseases, including autism and Alzheimer’s disease, the approach will accelerate the development of new side effect-free drugs via quick insights into various molecules and their functions.
The researchers said: “The technique will also speed up the development of new treatments by letting researchers more quickly understand what molecules are doing and which should be targeted.”
The study was published in Neuron and received funding from the US National Institutes of Heath among others groups in the US and abroad.