Making the medicine safe

Picture of a scientist with pipetteBefore an experimental medicine reaches humans, it must have gone through several earlier tests to make sure it is safe and effective. Drug Discovery Chemists find compounds that might make promising new treatments. Patent and Development teams will make sure that these new compounds are patented, and they will try to find commercial research partners.

Toxicologists test the new compounds on cells in the lab to determine whether they harm living cells, and whether they do what they are expected to do. If the compounds appear safe and effective at this stage, they are tested in animals, to determine the compound’s effect on complex biological systems. Laboratory animals are looked after by an Animal Technologist, who ensures that the animals are healthy and unstressed. If a medicine appears to be successful at this stage, testing proceeds to Phase I clinical trials.