When it comes to talking about drugs that have numerous and/or highly dangerous side effects, opioids are likely the first thing that comes to mind. Opioids are commonly used to treat pain because they are highly effective, however, they are also highly addictive and have now led to an opioid epidemic in several parts of the world. As a result, researchers and medical professionals have begun looking for ways to effectively treat pain and help patients, while reducing the risks of addiction and various other harmful side effects. A new study done by professors from the Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute of Science explains a technological breakthrough that is powerful enough to create drugs with fewer of the unwanted side effects.
Molecules are what make up chemical compounds, and the most important molecules in biology are chiral molecules. For drug safety, chiral drugs should be separated into their right- and left- handed components, however this is an expensive process. But this separation is necessary as it allows chemical manufacturers to keep the “good” molecules and discard any of the “bad” ones that could cause unwanted or even harmful side effects.
“Our finding has great practical importance,” shared Prof. Naaman. “It will usher in an era of better, safer drugs, and more environmentally-friendly pesticides.”
While the FDA recommends that all chiral drugs be separated, currently, only 13% of chiral drugs are separated. This just demonstrates the need for a technique such as the one these two professors have developed. Popular drugs such as Cipramil and Ritalin are sold chirally-pure (or separated), there are many forms of generic medications that are not.
These two professors now have a cost effective and simple technique for separating chiral. Therefore, this means there is now the ability to produce better medical and agricultural products, including dietary supplements, medicines, pesticides and food ingredients.
“We are now transforming our science into practice, with the help of Weizmann’s and the Hebrew University’s technology transfer companies. Placing better medical and environmental products on the market is a win-win for industry and for patients,” concluded Paltiel.
Research like this is vital in the fight against addiction. It is important that we continue to study and stay up-to-date on ways to better our medications in a way that is less harmful to the general population. People are already subject enough to addiction of drugs and alcohol without them being excessively harmful or addictive.