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essay - Where is Pharmacological Chemistry headed Advances...

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Where is Pharmacological Chemistry headed? Advances in the basic sciences in the past century have allowed many scientists and health professionals to make large and very effective efforts against the treatment of diseases such as cancer. Milestones such as mapping out the human genome, discovering a cure for cancer, and a multitude of other discoveries have led to hundreds of nobel prizes. One interesting and new field that has recently opened up is the field of pharmacogenomics. As Nicholas J. Schork describes the Lipitor trial and its efficacy on reducing Myocardial Infarctions, one gets the feeling that a scam is going on. That the pharmaceutical industry has invented some sort of secret marketing scheme that allows them to profit millions from people while at the same time helping nobody. However, as Dr. Schork explains, the decreased efficacy of Lipitor is actually due to something called pharmacogenomics. This is a field that has recently grown due to many advances in understanding of the human genome, and relating it to variations in drug response in the population. Genetic variations in drug response were known to exist as far back as the 1950’s. Back then, DNA was not yet known to be the genetic material that encodes all of life. Watson and Crick were the first to publish their findings on the structure of DNA as a double helix that can be copied and translated. It is often surprising and stupefying how far science has taken civilization in the past few decades. Since Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helical nature of DNA, the human genome has been found to be made up of a sequence of 3 billion base pairs. These bases are made up of adenine, cytosine, thymine and guanine and the code is spread out over 23 pairs of chromosomes. The control of protein formation is mediated by genes which are controlled by regulatory elements. 15 million sites in the human genome are known to be “polymorphic” or are different among individuals in the population. Many forms of variation are present in this stretch of the human genome and the most common one being single nucleotide polymorphisms. And this is the area that pharmacogenomics is mainly concerned with;
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understanding and defining the differences in polymorphs among individuals as they pertain to drug response.
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