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Matching Side Effects

July 28, 2008

Matching drugs’ side effects could reveal new clinical uses for them.


Teaching old drugs new tricks. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many drugs turn out to have multiple uses: for example, Viagra was originally a heart medication. Now, German and Danish scientists have developed a way to look for these alternate applications, by analyzing the drugs’ side effects. Peer Bork of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and his colleagues found that drugs that share many side effects often share desirable attributes as well.

PEER BORK (European Molecular Biology Laboratory):
Many drugs that usually don’t have anything to do with each other, they are likely to share targets: common proteins where they bind to.

That suggests that the drugs may be able to do each other’s work – and if one is cheaper, better, or less toxic than the other, all the better. Bork adds that such drugs will already have been tested and cleared for use in humans. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.