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Chem Res Toxicol. 2008 Jan;21(1):129-37. Epub 2007 Dec 4.

Metabolism and toxicity of drugs. Two decades of progress in industrial drug metabolism.

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Merck Research Laboratories, Department of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics Sumneytown Pike, West Point, Pennsylvania 19486-0004, USA.


The science of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) has developed significantly over the past 20 years, and its functional role in today's pharmaceutical industry has matured to the point where DMPK has become an indispensable discipline in support of drug discovery and development. While contributions to the lead optimization phase of discovery efforts have been particularly noteworthy in helping to select only the best drug candidates for entry into development, it should be recognized that the scope of DMPK spans the continuum of discovery through clinical evaluation and even into the post-marketing phase; as such, the breadth of DMPK's involvement is almost unique in contemporary pharmaceutical research. This perspective summarizes notable advances in the field, many of which have been made possible by technological developments in areas such as molecular biology, genetics, and bioanalytical chemistry, and highlights the critical nature of key partnerships between Drug Metabolism, Medicinal Chemistry, and Safety Assessment groups in attempting to advance drug candidates with a low potential for causing adverse events in humans. Finally, some speculative predictions are made of the future role of DMPK in pharmaceutical research, where current advances in our mechanistic understanding of the molecular processes that control the absorption, disposition, metabolism, elimination, and toxicity of drugs and their biotransformation products will combine to further enhance the impact of DMPK in drug discovery and development.

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