Turning to New Technologies for Drug Discovery
The process of developing new drugs is long and expensive. On average, it takes over a decade for a new drug to go from the research stage to being used by patients—costing hundreds of millions of dollars along the way. Making this process more efficient would allow new diseases to be treated more quickly and have a big impact on patients’ quality of life.
The success of any new drug depends on how it interacts with and enters human cells. Understanding these interactions early in the research and development process would mean that only drugs with the greatest potential for success would move on to expensive further development.
Dr. Katherine Elvira, Canada Research Chair in New Materials and Techniques for Health Applications, is developing lab-on-a-chip (microfluidic) technologies to investigate how drugs enter human cells and to analyse how they perform when given to patients.
She and her research team are also trying to understand why drugs work differently in different patients. Through non-intrusive, real-time monitoring of drugs in patients, they hope to provide medical researchers with huge amounts of new data, similar to how weather forecasts have improved through the use of vast arrays of measurements.
The technologies that Elvira’s team develops may completely change the way we create drugs by providing innovative techniques for drug discovery and on-line patient data for more accurate diagnosis and real-time care.