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Grant Funds Research into Non-invasive Drug Testing at the University of Mississippi and Ohio Northern University

Oct 3, 2006

Many antibiotics and other powerful drugs that treat serious medical conditions are effective only in a narrow range of concentration in the body. Too little and the medication is ineffective. Too much and serious problems can arise. That is why many patients go through repeated blood tests or other invasive measures to test the level of therapeutic drugs in their blood and sometimes in their body’s tissues.

A new three-year research project being undertaken by faculty at the University of Mississippi and Ohio Northern University may offer a non-invasive way to obtain the same information.

S. Narasimha Murthy, Ph.D., at the University of Mississippi, formerly a faculty member at Ohio Northern’s Raabe College of Pharmacy, is principal investigator for the study. David Kisor, Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacokinetics at ONU’s Raabe College of Pharmacy, is the co-investigator.

Dr. Murthy explains that he is exploring electroporation as a way to determine drug levels. Electroporation uses short, painless electrical impulses to allow sampling of drug levels in the extracellular fluid – the fluid that surrounds the body’s cells.

The study, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services), will determine whether the electroporation method provides the same information and accuracy as more invasive methods already in use.

The study will look at four common medicines. In the first years of the study, testing will involve animal models. The final study plans to involve six to ten healthy human volunteers who will receive a single dose of a common medicine. The level of the drug in their tissues will be determined by electroporation and by invasive testing.

In the first years of the study, data will be collected at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and sent to Ohio Northern where pharmacokinetic studies and data evaluation will take place.

Doctor of pharmacy students will be involved in this research, learning about transdermal drug concentration determination and pharmacokinetics.

If the study shows this noninvasive method is as effective as current methods, the researchers say there may be a time when monitoring patients on specific drugs will no longer involve needles or biopsies.