Gene technology and the drugs of tomorrow
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The progress of pharmaceutical research depends on three factors: on the evolution of medical needs, on societal attitudes, and on scientific and technical feasibility. Among the factors which are ‘internal’ to science, molecular biology seems to be the most important driving force, at least for the foreseeable future. The influence of molecular biology on pharmaceutical research is occurring in several distinct phases. The first phase was characterized by the use of gene technology as a production instrument for known proteins. In the second phase, gene technology is instrumental in the identification of novel proteins and in the elucidation of their gene structure and physiological function. A great number of proteins which have therapeutic potential will eventually emerge from this phase, with the more important ones like the hematopoietic factors yet to come. During the third phase, gene technology will provide proteins that can serve as pharmacological tools: receptors, ligands, enzymes, cytokines and other proteins provided by gene technology will enable us to open up new fields of pharmacology from which novel drugs, often low molecular weight chemical entities, will emerge. Finally the fourth phase will be characterized by a knowledge of gene structure and regulation extensive enough to develop a pharmacology of gene regulation and to establish somatic gene therapy. New drugs that can be expected to emerge from the interaction of molecular biology and pharmaceutical research within the next ten to twelve years are discussed. It is expected that pharmaceutical research will in the end be transformed into a discipline in which molecular biology and structural chemistry play dominating roles while synthetic chemistry will be reduced to the role of an important tool.
KeywordsDNA, recombinant Drug development Molecular biology Technology
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