Top 3 Achievements in Pharmacology Over the Past 10 Years
Today we look at the achievements of pharmacology over the past decade, which doctors use today.
1. Immuno-and biological therapy
Conventional chemotherapy has a systemic effect on the entire human body, destroying both cancerous and healthy cells. This is both dangerous and very difficult for patients to tolerate. In the last decade, new biological and immunotherapy drugs have been introduced into clinical practice, operating according to different principles:
- Biological drugs act pointwise, destroying only genetically modified cancer cells in the body and not affecting healthy ones. For example, Zelboraf blocks serine-threonine kinase, which is encoded by the BRAF gene, and it, in turn, is responsible for the development of melanoma. A genetic study is done to the patient, and if the BRAF mutation is confirmed, Zelboraf becomes salvation;
- Immunotherapeutic drugs train and mobilize the human immune system to fight cancer cells. A cancerous tumor is an out-of-control group of cells with a malfunction in DNA that can disguise itself and become invisible to the immune system. Immunological preparations remove the disguise from cancers, giving the immune system the command to act, after which it destroys the tumor throughout the body, including distant metastases, without harming healthy cells.
In recent years, methods have also appeared that make it possible to test the effect of various types of chemo-, immuno-and biological therapy on a specific tumor tissue of a particular patient. Doctors take a tissue sample from the patient using a biopsy, the resulting preparation in the laboratory is divided into parts, different treatment methods are applied to each and they monitor the reaction of cancer cells. Thus, specialists are able to determine in advance with a high degree of probability which type of treatment will help a particular patient. And this is a huge breakthrough in pharmacology: the patient will not spend a lot of money and precious time for “playing roulette”, trying various methods of therapy at random.
2. Discovery of drugs that defeat hepatitis C
Many people are not afraid of viral hepatitis – but actually it is no less dangerous and insidious than cancer. Hepatitis C is as asymptomatic as cancer, it is usually found in the later stages and leads to dire health consequences, and often fatal outcomes – just like cancer. People often carry the virus for years and even decades and learn about the disease at the stage of cirrhosis or liver cancer when it is too late. According to statistics, every 12th reader of this article is either sick or is a carrier of the hepatitis virus, although he or she does not know about it. According to the same statistics, hepatitis B and C are the main cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer: about 80% of cases of liver cancer occur due to their fault.
A couple of years ago, the treatment of the disease lasted a year and was associated with a large number of unpleasant side effects, and its effectiveness was low – no more than 40% of patients recovered. In recent years, new antiviral drugs have appeared in the pharmacy that directly affect the life cycle of the virus and destroy it. The course of treatment may include either a single drug (monotherapy) or a combination of several drugs.
Moreover, the percentage of complete recovery today is from 90 to 100, with practically no side effects.
3. The discovery of a group of drugs that cure AIDS
HIV infection is one of the most serious modern diseases. Over the past 20 years, about 36 million people have died from it.
Today, the duration and quality of life of HIV-infected patients is almost the same as that of an average healthy person. In other words, a person taking correctly selected modern drugs can live a full life and give birth to healthy children. The disease, which until recently was acute, progressive and fatal, has become just as controlled a chronic disease as, for example, diabetes.
Currently, there are about ten different groups of drugs for the treatment of AIDS. The patient has to take the so-called “cocktail”, consisting of several drugs from different groups, or to take one tablet containing a “set” of the necessary drugs. Thus, the disease is transferred to the status of a chronic controlled disease with minimal side effects.
Another success in this area is the prevention of AIDS infection of people at risk (representatives of the LGBT community, people who have an erratic sex life, and those who for some reason refuse to be protected by condoms). These are drugs – Truvada or its Israeli generic Emtrivir, – when taken daily, they give a guarantee not to get AIDS from 93 to 97%.
Unfortunately, for some patients with AIDS, treatment options at the expense of the state are still limited. Nevertheless, revolutionary changes in pharmacology give us all hope for the future.