One of the burdens of a serious health condition, like cancer or a chronic immune disease, is the heavy medication necessary for treatment. The cost of one day’s medicine can be surprisingly expensive, and that doesn’t take into account the physical toll and side effects that the drugs can have on one’s body.
A new study the University of Texas at Austin could help make medications more effective, though – leading to lower doses for patients. Ross Thyer, the co-author of the paper and a post-doctoral researcher at UT’s College of Natural Sciences, says that the reason why a patient with a serious health condition has to take an abundance of medication fairly often is due to the fact that the medicine is made from proteins.
“[Proteins] are large, complicated molecules and the human body is often an unfriendly place for these,” Thyer says. “The bonds that hold these proteins together can fall apart. These proteins then get degraded and lose their effectivity.”
Thyer’s study modifies the medicine’s proteins that disintegrate by replacing them with a different, stronger bond. He says that there are many benefits to the consumer if proteins’ bonds are dependable.
“A lot of these drugs are very expensive and often have large side effects from the doses you need to give,” Thyer says. “By making these proteins a lot more stable, we can decrease the dose we give a patient and it will last a lot longer in the body. This both decreases the side effects and a lower dose means a lower cost.”
Because Thyer is only reworking the protein bond, this study can be applied broadly to many different types of medication. Thyer says he hopes it will be put on trial in under five years.
Written by Haley Butler.