Preventing Costly Missteps In Drug Development

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computer and drug researchThe script for one of the most dreaded scenarios in new drug development reads like this: Company A sinks several hundred million dollars into putting a new drug onto pharmacy shelves. Only then do serious side effects appear, and force withdrawal of that drug from the market.

Researchers in India now are reporting development of a new and more accurate method for predicting toxicity in the very early stages of drug development.

Nagasuma R. Chandra and colleagues describe the computer technique in the November/December issue of the ACS's bi-monthly Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling. They also report on its use in predicting with high accuracy one form of toxicity - a heart rhythm disorder that forced withdrawal of the popular antihistamine terfenadine (Seldane).

The technique identifies patterns in the substructure of a drug's molecular structure that can raise red flags over hidden toxicity.

"Such screening saves a lot of time, effort, and money and helps in better planning and focusing of the available resources for drug discovery," they write.

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