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This posts provide a very simple overview of the main modes of actions of drugs.  There are three ways in which they work:

  1. Replacing chemicals that are deficient.
  2. Interfering with cell function.
  3. Acting against invading organisms or abnormal cells.

These are now described in a little more detail.

Replacing chemicals that are deficient.

Here chemicals are added that are not being obtained by the normal eating or functioning of the body.  This include hormone treatment and use of vitamins to deal with rickets or scurvy or even iron to deal with anaemia.

Interfering with cell function.

Here drugs work by affecting cell function.  This includes controlling pain and inflammation and can also causes cells to either increase or decrease in activity.

If a medicine intensifies cell activity it is called an AGONIST.

If a medicine reduces cell activity it is called an ANTAGONIST.

Many medicines work by interfering with enzymes (biochemical catalysts) produced from cells by increasing or reducing their activity.

Acting against invading organisms or abnormal cells.

Here drugs work by treating infection, such as bacterial or fungal infection, as well as the treatment of cancer.

For more information on our on-line training courses on how medicines work – please contact us.

I hope this is of interest.  Dominic

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