Chemotherapy

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MDIS

Foundation Certificate in Biomedical Sciences

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Date: 27th July 2012

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‘Father of Chemotherapy’

Chemotherapy is the use of chemical matters to cure diseases (1). The origins of chemotherapy is attributed to Paul Erhlich, a Nobel Laureate in Medicine (1814-1915), who is recognized as the ‘Father of Chemotherapy’ due to his works in stains using different dyes and his discovery of the drug ‘bullets’ (2). In his workings of stains using different dyes on lab animals, Paul Erhlich discovered that different dyes had varying affinities as to which blood cell it could attach to. Hence, he discovered the presence of chemo-receptors. With this discovery, Paul Erhlich worked with various chemists and went through several inventions to produce drugs such as suramin, to cure common illnesses and ailments (2). Paul Erhlich has been attributed for his theory that ‘bad’ cells in the body were attacked by administered drugs through a molecular binding process that allows those ‘bad’ cells to undergo necrosis (3).

In Paul Erhlich’s preparation of drugs, the quantity of separate ingredients used is an important factor to produce working drugs that are in a non-toxic state. Paul Erhlich carried out clinical tests on laboratory animals by administering these drugs into their systems before it was put in the market. However, he did encounter drugs that were not feasible but highly toxic, such as Atoxyl. Yet, he used this drug to seek better alternatives in the medicinal field (2).

Why was Paul Erhlich preparing drugs?

Generally, drugs are actually beneficial to cure and relief symptoms, Drugs are introduced into our system through jabs, nasal sprays, pills and more. But the misuse of these drugs leads to health complications and an increase in toxic, harmful substances in the body.

With the extreme capabilities of drugs to be beneficial and to be toxic, drugs are substances that bring change in biological functions through chemical reactions. Drugs bind to receptors for an effect to take place, which can be either therapeutic or toxic. Drugs usually interact with specific receptors that play a regulatory role in the human body. These drugs must have the proper size, shape and electrical charge to react with the specific receptors.

The importance of receptors

In the earlier paragraph, I have mentioned a couple of times about the need for drugs to bind to specific receptors. But what is so important about receptors? Receptors are proteins or part of proteins that have an active site for binding. Receptors are capable of bringing about direct responses or triggering a cascade chain of reactions. With all due respect, receptors are responsible for the selectivity of drug actions. This is explained in the flow chart below;

RECEPTORS

Specific receptors play a big role in cell signalling, especially in signal reception and in the beginning of transduction. Cell signalling simply consists of three main steps; reception, transduction and response.

RECEPTION TRANSDUCTION RESPONSE

| |G-protein-linked |It has 7 alpha-helices spanning membrane with cytoplasmic side | | |Receptor |that binds with a G-protein and the extracellular side binds to | |PLASMA MEMBRANE PROTEINS | |ligands. | | |Tyrosine Kinase |It has a single alpha-helix spanning the membrane, with an | | |Receptor |intracellular tail with several tryosines. | | |Ion Channel Receptor|These are ligand-gated ion...
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