22 March 2011
Don’t Hold Your Breath!
Barely a week goes by without another important discovery being made by our scientists. Most recently, a protein in the liver called LXR (Liver X Receptor) has been investigated. As well as regulating cholesterol, it has also been found to be linked to the formation of thrombosis.
Harmful and beneficial compounds are often isolated. When harmful substances are isolated, attempts are made to develop drugs which block or inhibit them (antagonists) while, in the case of beneficial substances, scientists try to develop drugs that mimic their action (agonists or mimetics).
A good example has been seen in diabetes with (beneficial) incretin. Incretin-mimetics such as exenatide are now on the market as are drugs such as the gliptins which block the substance which breaks down incretin.
So the race is on to develop drugs which inhibit LXR. The problem is that this takes a lot of time and a lot of money.
Usually it takes about ten years for a new drug to progress from conception to the market place. Tests on animals, tests on healthy humans (for possible side effects) and tests on humans at risk have all to be performed before a product licence is granted. The vast majority of new drugs fall by the wayside before the product licence is granted. Even after this, problems can occur. Remember troglitazone?
So research now will bear fruit in the early twenty-twenties! It seems a long time but there have been so many accidents over the years (thalidomide was the worst) that it is essential.
So, great news about LXR. Sorry about the wait.