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Adverse drug side effects are often due to the interaction of the drug with biological molecules other than the desired target.It is very rare that a drug interacts with only one type of molecule in a living system.It was not until the early 1800s that scientists began extracting chemicals from plants with purported therapeutic properties to isolate the active components and identify them.By discovering and structurally characterizing compounds with medicinal activity, chemists are able to design new drugs with enhanced potency and decreased adverse side effects.Chemists can vary the atoms or groups within the model and predict the effect the transformation has on the molecular properties of the drug. Advances in technology have made it possible for medicinal chemists to synthesize a vast number of compounds in a relatively short time, a process referred to as combinatorial chemistry.In this technique, one part of a molecule is maintained, as different chemical groups are attached to its molecular framework to produce a series of similar molecules with distinct structural variations.Combinatorial libraries of these molecular variants are thus created.Every chemical that is synthesized must be tested for biological activity.
Pharmaceutical chemistry encompasses drug design, drug synthesis , and the evaluation of drug efficacy (how effective it is in treating a condition) and drug safety.Typically, conditions that affect a larger percentage of the population receive more attention and more research funding.Antiulcer drugs and cholesterol- reducing agents are currently the therapeutic areas of greatest emphasis.Prior to the nineteenth century, schools of pharmacy trained pharmacists and physicians how to prepare medicinal remedies from natural organic products or inorganic materials.Herbal medications and folk remedies dating back to ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Asian societies were administered without any knowledge of their biological mechanism of action.
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To develop a drug to target a specific disease, researchers try to understand the biological mechanism responsible for that condition.