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Fatal imbalance between drug discovery, diseases: US Prof

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Lucknow, Feb 24 (UNI) Highlighting the existence of a ''fatal imbalance'' between drug discovery and disease, a US expert in chemical pharmacology today said the global pharma industry has focussed on combating ailments prevalent in rich nations rather than fighting more serious tropical disorders in poor countries.

Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of the two-day 10th International Conference on ''Drug Discovery: Perspectives and Challenges'' at the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) here, Prof David J Triggle, a facully in the state university of New York, said 95 per cent of funds of the global pharmaceutical industry were being spent on developing drugs for diseases prevalent in rich countries.

The remaining five per cent was devoted towards more serious tropical parasitic disease including malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia widespread among population of developing and poor nations, he added.

''A fatal imbalance persists between drug discovery and neglected tropical disease,'' Prof Triggle maintained.

Funds to the tune of over 40 billion dollars were spent by the global pharma industry primarily towards diseases like hypertension, generally occuring in rich countries, but hardly anything was forked out for developing drugs to root out diseases like malaria and diarrheoa, he added.

The end result of the exercise has been development of drugs that only have palliative effect and not treat the ailment selectively, he said, adding, that on the contrary drugs that promise cure for disorders like hypertension, end up making the patient resistant to multiple drugs and consequently worsen his state.

Focussed efforts are needed on part of the pharma insdustry to discover molecules that can exclusively treat tropical parasitic diseases, Prof Triggle said.

''At least 500 million people are affected by malaria annually in the world espcially in the developing and underdeveloped nations, while the figure was likely to multiply by leaps and bounds in the years to come. The patients of malaria itself shell out over 10 billion US dollars on treatment, which is not definitive,'' he claimed.

Prof Triggle said that discovery of ''magic bullets'' or single/selectively acting drugs was needed for curing such diseases.

Instead of only going by the genotype based route to drug discovery assisted by the power of informatics, the pharmacists can also bank on the power of bacteria living in the human body to offer a cure for various ailments.

''Re-engineering commensal bacteria (residing within the body) to develop cure for tropical parasitic diseases could well prove be the light at the end of the tunnel in the not so rosy scenario,'' he said.

The two-day conference is being organised by the Indian Society of Chemists and Biologists (ISCB), whose president and vice-chancellor of H S Gaur University, Sagar (Madhya Pradesh) D P Singh delivered the presidential address, while Director CDRI C M Gupta welcomed the guests.

UNI ARS NAB SHR RK1555

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