New uses for old drugs?
2nd August 2012
It has long been known by scientists that drugs already approved for one disease might be effective in treating others. However up until now there has been no way to identify new uses for existing drugs with any accuracy. However that looks set to change, scientist Sivanesan Dakshanamurthy and his colleagues have developed a comprehensive new computer method called ‘Train-Match—Fit-Streamline’(TMFS) that uses 11 factors to quickly pair likely drugs and diseases. They so far have used TMFS to discover evidence that Celebrex, the popular prescription medicine for pain and inflammation, has a chemical signature and architecture suggesting that it may work against a difficult to treat form of cancer. It has also been found that a medicine for hookworm could be used to cut off the blood supply that enables many forms of cancer to grow and spread. And then of course there’s Viagra which in 1989 was being developed as a high blood pressure and angina treatment. However it was found that Viagra could be helpful in reversing erectile dysfunction. The findings published in the ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry went on to say “We anticipate that expanding our TMFS method to the more than 27,000 clinically active agents available worldwide across all targets, will be most useful in the repositioning of existing drugs for new therapeutic targets.” But you may ask why all this is necessary, why not just develop new drugs? The answer in short is money; it costs over a staggering $1billion to put a new drug on pharmacy shelves. On top of the expense the current approach is very time consuming and carries no guarantee the drug will even make it onto the market.