Pharmacology The Study Of Drugs And Their Reactions
Not to be confused with the profession of pharmacist is the science of pharmacology. The basic precepts of pharmacology is to study various compounds to discover how these substances react with a living organism and what changes are made in its function because of them. It is through this study that the drugs we develop as medicine are discovered and refined.
There are several aspects to that all interact within the whole. The properties and composition of various drugs is an elementary function of this science. It includes the study of how these drugs interact with natural physiological functions as well as how they interrelate to other drugs. It encompasses the toxicology of chemicals and compounds and the effects these poisons have and how some can actually be used for beneficial purposes.
Drug therapy and medical applications of drugs is a further aspect of pharmacology. It is in this critical science that it is determined what use can be made of a chemical or herbal substance in the cure or prevention of illness or disease. Here is where dosages and combinations are tested to find the most effective use for the drugs that are produced.
There are times when it is unknown exactly how a drug works on the body to achieve the desired effect. However, many drugs are still approved because of their ability to work on a problem. Within the field of pharmacology it will still be studied so that when its pathology is finally discovered, new and better forms can be produced.
While pharmacology deals with the chemicals used to treat illness it is essential for the practitioner to have a very in-depth understanding of the body and how it works.
Through the increased understanding of biochemistry and cell biology it is possible to construct chemicals uniquely designed to affect specific neural transmitters or the chemical receptors on the cell's surface. These "designer" drugs can be very powerful at pinpointing one specific part of the body for treatment and prevent unwanted side effects from creating worse situations than the original disease.
Even one's genetic make-up can effect the performance of a medicinal drug and how it reacts to a specific body type. Pharmacogenetics is a growing subset which studies the variations in particular groups to determine how severe these fluctuations are and if there is some aspect of genetic science that can improve the overall usefulness for everyone.
With the new genome mapping techniques available studies can now target specific genes in the DNA of an individual and develop individualized cures for more of the hereditary conditions that plague humanity.
Since most medical compounds are designed for specific effects it is possible that even a slight variance in the structure or dosage can create a different effect. Therefore pharmacology is heavily regulated. Development of new medicinal drugs can take years in the development and testing stages before it will be approved for use on human subjects. Most of Pharmacogenetics is research.
It has been noted that sometimes there will be only one new drug produced and approved out of thousands of chemicals tested. The process can take years to complete and it is for this reason the drug manufacturers will sometimes limit their research to only those areas that have a high demand or will obtain patents for exclusive production as a means to recoup the money spent on research.