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What Is Biochemical Pharmacology?

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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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Biochemical pharmacology is a branch of pharmacology research that studies how drugs influence living systems. This is done using live animal test subjects, and animal or human organs and tissue components. It may also involve elements of molecular pharmacology, where the study of protein interaction with drug molecules is used to determine how a drug will act inside a cell. Many supporting sciences are utilized in biochemical pharmacology research, including biophysics and biochemistry, and the study of the structure and physiology of the mammalian cell.

Pharmacological research is focused on determining the direct effect a drug has on cell reproduction and health before it is released into the general population. This leads to the creation of many experimental drugs in the laboratory that are not meant for eventual treatment of disease, but are instead created primarily to test their reactions with normal biological processes. The focus on a drug's direct biochemical effect on the human body began in the 1950s.

Research in biochemical pharmacology often involves other disciplines in pharmacology as well. For this reason, the international organizations and journals that focus on research in the field also welcome and publish papers from researchers in behavioral and physiological pharmacology and toxicology. This often involves cancer research and a focus on the immune system through immunopharmacology. Any research involving the various systems of the body that relate to drug interactions, from respiratory to cardiovascular or gastrointestinal systems, can have a direct effect on findings in biochemical pharmacology.

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The European Society of Biochemical Pharmacology (ESBP) and its scientific journal Biochemical Pharmacology were created in the 1950s to further research into drug interactions with biological systems, and initially the ESBP only had around 150 members. The ESBP merged in 1984 with Drug Metabolism Workshops (DMW). These are groups of industrial and academic pharmacologists who sometimes run research under the guidance of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) connected to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Drug metabolism workshops have been conducted in European, Asian, and North American countries every few years since 1970. Each workshop has focused on one or several unique aspects of biochemical pharmacology study. Examples include in vitro drug metabolism in laboratory vessels to enzymology, dealing with the biochemistry of enzyme actions.

A further move to expand global partnerships in biochemical pharmacology resulted in the ESBP also incorporating into the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX) in 2007. Xenobiotics is characterized by chemicals, such as drugs, that are inherently foreign to a living organism. As of 2011, the ISSX had an international base of over 2,200 professional members involved in the study of xenobiotics from more than 50 different countries

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