Another important case study in rational drug design is imatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor designed specifically for the bcr-abl fusion protein that is characteristic for Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemias (chronic myelogenous leukemia and occasionally acute lymphocytic leukemia). Imatinib is substantially different from previous drugs for cancer, as most agents of chemotherapy simply target rapidly dividing cells, not differentiating between cancer cells and other tissues.
Serendipity means a «fortuitous happenstance» or «pleasant surprise». It was first coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were «always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of».
The notion of serendipity is a common occurrence throughout the history of scientific innovation such as Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin in 1928, and the invention of the microwave oven by Percy Spencer in 1945, to name but a few.
The word has been voted one of the ten English words hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company. However, due to its sociological use, the word has been exported into many other languages.
A pharmaceutical drug (medicine or medication and officially medicinal product) is any chemical substance formulated or compounded as single active ingredient or in combination of other pharmacologically active substance, it may be in a separate but packed in a single unit pack as combination product intended for internal, or external or for use in the medical diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease.
Medications are classified in various ways. One of the key divisions is between traditional small molecule drugs, usually derived from chemical synthesis, and biopharmaceuticals, which include recombinant proteins, vaccines, blood products used therapeutically (such as IVIG), gene therapy, and cell therapy (for instance, stem cell therapies).
Pharmaceuticals are classified in various other groups besides their origin on the basis of pharmacological properties like mode of action and their pharmacological action or activity, route of administration, biological system affected, or therapeutic effects. An elaborate and widely used classification system is the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (ATC system). The World Health Organization keeps a list of essential medicines.
Drug discovery and drug development are complex and expensive endeavors undertaken by companies, academic scientists, and governments. Governments generally regulate what drugs can be marketed, how drugs are marketed, and in some jurisdictions, drug pricing. Controversies have arisen over drug pricing and disposal of used drugs.
Pharmacology (from Greek φάρμακον, pharmakon, «poison» in classic Greek; «drug» in modern Greek; and -λογία, -logia «study of», «knowledge of») is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action, where a drug can be broadly defined as any man-made, natural, or endogenous (within the body) molecule which exerts a biochemical and/or physiological effect on the cell, tissue, organ, or organism. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function. If substances have medicinal properties, they are considered pharmaceuticals.
The field encompasses drug composition and properties, synthesis and drug design, molecular and cellular mechanisms, organ/systems mechanisms, signal transduction/cellular communication, molecular diagnostics, interactions, toxicology, chemical biology, therapy, and medical applications and antipathogenic capabilities. The two main areas of pharmacology are pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. The former studies the effects of the drug on biological systems, and the latter the effects of biological systems on the drug. In broad terms, pharmacodynamics discusses the chemicals with biological receptors, and pharmacokinetics discusses the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of chemicals from the biological systems. Pharmacology is not synonymous with pharmacy and the two terms are frequently confused. Pharmacology, a biomedical science, deals with the research, discovery, and characterization of chemicals which show biological effects and the elucidation of cellular and organismal function in relation to these chemicals. In contrast, pharmacy, a health services profession, is concerned with application of the principles learned from pharmacology in its clinical settings; whether it be in a dispensing or clinical care role. In either field, the primary contrast between the two are their distinctions between direct-patient care, for pharmacy practice, and the science-oriented research field, driven by pharmacology.
The origins of clinical pharmacology date back to the Middle Ages in Avicenna’s The Canon of Medicine, Peter of Spain’s Commentary on Isaac, and John of St Amand’s Commentary on the Antedotary of Nicholas. Clinical pharmacology owes much of its foundation to the work of William Withering. Pharmacology as a scientific discipline did not further advance until the mid-19th century amid the great biomedical resurgence of that period. Before the second half of the nineteenth century, the remarkable potency and specificity of the actions of drugs such as morphine, quinine and digitalis were explained vaguely and with reference to extraordinary chemical powers and affinities to certain organs or tissues. The first pharmacology department was set up by Rudolf Buchheim in 1847, in recognition of the need to understand how therapeutic drugs and poisons produced their effects.
Early pharmacologists focused on natural substances, mainly plant extracts. Pharmacology developed in the 19th century as a biomedical science that applied the principles of scientific experimentation to therapeutic contexts. Today Pharmacologists harness the power of genetics, molecular biology, chemistry, and other advanced tools to transform information about molecular mechanisms and targets into therapies directed against disease, defects or pathogens, and create methods for preventative care, diagnostics, and ultimately personalized medicine.
Biotechnology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products, or «any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use» (UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Art. 2). Depending on the tools and applications, it often overlaps with the (related) fields of bioengineering and biomedical engineering.
For thousands of years, humankind has used biotechnology in agriculture, food production, and medicine. The term itself is largely believed to have been coined in 1919 by Hungarian engineer Károly Ereky. In the late 20th and early 21st century, biotechnology has expanded to include new and diverse sciences such as genomics, recombinant gene technologies, applied immunology, and development of pharmaceutical therapies and diagnostic tests.
Medicine (also called conventional, orthodox, scientific, or mainstream medicine, especially in connection with alternative medicine, UK English Listeni/ˈmɛdsɨn/, US English Listeni/ˈmɛdɨsɨn/) is the field of applied science related to the art of healing by diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness in human beings.
Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through medication or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints & traction, prostheses, biologics, pharmaceuticals, ionizing radiation among others.
The word medicine is derived from the Latin ars medicina, meaning the art of healing.