Researchers from the Children’s Hospital Boston Informatics Program (CHIP) in Harvard have come up with a model that can test a drug and its “tetragenocity” (the likelihood that it can cause fetal malformations during pregnancy), “based on characterizing the genes it targets.”
The Harvard researchers made use of bioinformatics and public databases in order to create a profile of 619 drugs designated to a particular pregnancy risk class, as well as which known genes or proteins they target.
The study showed that the drugs targeting genes associated with fetal development fell under the higher pregnancy risk classes.
The researchers claimed that the tetragenoic effects would be hard to determine, because most drugs are taken rarely during pregnancy, and at times may even be taken in along other drugs. “Any effects tend to be rare or too subtle to be rooted in medical records.”
Despite the model’s element of uncertainty, research leaders Schachter, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Kohane are convinced that their model would be of interest to drug manufacturing companies and doctors, providing pertinent information for drug labeling purposes.
Said Schachter, “We can now say to patients, ‘This drug targets a ton of genes that are involved in developmental processes,’” Another benefit would be that doctors would be more certain when it comes to prescribing safe drugs to, for instance, a young pregnant woman with a heart condition.
The model has been published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology.
SOURCES: • January 7, 2011. Tanya Thomas. “Model To Predict Likelihood of Drug Birth Defect In Pregnancy” www.medindia.net • January 10, 2011. Keri Stedman. “Drug’s likelihood of causing birth defects predicted by model” Physorg.com
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