Post #006: Recording pharmaceutical innovation

London, April 30, 2017

Since joining the History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group at Queen Mary University of London, my research interests have included the historical study of the coincidental factors that shape pharmaceutical innovation. Although many of the readers of this blog – who are aware not only of my published work [1], but also of my involvement in the establishment of the Museum of Pharmacology in Athens [2] – might not find this interest of mine as surprising or opportunistic, I feel that justifying this choice might be necessary.

The term “pharmaceutical innovation” encapsulates all those advancements in the fields of pharmaceutics, bioengineering, genetics, medicinal chemistry, molecular biology, bioinformatics, pharmacology, ethnopharmacology, experimental medicine, toxicology, nanoengineering or therapeutics that allow for the design, development, testing, repurposing or production of new drugs. In essence, pharmaceutical innovation is the spearhead of biomedical progress. Revised drug discovery processes, the isolation of drugs from natural products and venoms, the contribution of medicinal chemistry and computational modelling in drug design and synthesis, the development of high-throughput drug screening methodologies, the pioneering development of biopharmaceuticals, the approaches to address the challenge of antibiotic resistance, the improvement of the available antiviral drugs and vaccination, the development of peptide-based pharmaceutics, the design and use of novel biomedical imaging probes, the development of drugs for neglected and rare diseases, the emerging transition from nanoengineering to nanotherapeutics, the identification of epigenetic processes as drug targets, the fascinating field of predictive toxicology, the opportunities arising from drug repurposing, the re-discovery and characterization of the wonders of traditional Chinese medicine; they are some representative aspects of pharmaceutical innovation in our days.

Recording pharmaceutical innovation is, thus, not a pursuit that can be undertaken with mainstream historiographical approaches. Moreover, in this complex, multi-disciplinary, rapidly-evolving and “live” dimension of biomedical progress, identifying, prioritising, analyzing and correlating the factors that shape pharmaceutical innovation is a challenge fit primarily for those who understand it and perceive it as such.


Notes: [1]: being, primarily, the result of a long commitment to experimental brain research; [2]: I have been a Founding Member (as a representative of undergraduate and postgraduate students) of the Museum of Pharmacology, as it was set up at the Laboratory of Pharmacology of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2003, and have participated in the unsuccessful efforts of it becoming a dynamic and independent entity, rather than a corridor decoration.

Citation: Zarros A. Post #006: Recording pharmaceutical innovation. 2017; 30-Apr.