The poor dietary shift in human evolution
has put pressure on the pharmaceutical industry to boost poor health and
nutrition (Luca, et al., 2010). The number of drugs entering the markets
is increasing exponentially and is becoming more sophisticated. These
medications are helping treat a variety of diseases and illnesses. However,
some believe in herbal treatment to heal certain illnesses. This includes the
avoidance of artificially engineered or inorganic substances. Certain
medications can induce toxic side effects thereby changing the patient’s
nutritional status. 

Conclusion:  

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However, research is
now focused on a new invasive therapy called ‘Tumour Necrosis Factor Alpha’
(TNF). This involves gold Nano- particles attached to TNF, which is the tumour
killing agent. It is also attached to a molecule called ‘Derivatised
polyethylene glycol’ (PEG-THIOL) which protects TNF from being attacked when
bypassing the bloodstream. This is more efficient than chemotherapy as TNF
accumulates only on cancer tumours, not healthy cells. As a result, this will lower
toxicity in patients and the nutritional status will not be as compromised in
comparison to chemotherapy or radiation (Jain, et al, 2012).

The medicinal
chemistry field is also using nanotechnology to improve the quality of life in
patients facing life threating illnesses. As an example, scientists are trying
to increase survival rates and quality of life is in cancer patients. Cancer is
the abnormal growth of cells with the potential to invade other regions of the
body. Common treatments including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy not only attacks cancerous cells, but healthy cells too, resulting
in adverse side effects. Patients experience malnutrition due to loss of
appetite with the inability to absorb vital nutrients from food. Consequently,
cancer patients become fatigued with lower energy and are much weaker in
fighting off infections. This can lead to anorexia and muscle atrophy (National
Cancer Institute,2018).

  Briefly, a liposome is a spherical vesicle
with a lipid bilayer which can send hydrophilic (water loving) and hydrophobic
(water hating) nutrients to the desired site. It will then bypass specific
elements within the gastric system and pass the nutrients directly to the cells
via the lymphatic system. This is a better alternative as some supplements have
low bioavailability and absorption rates including glutathione and vitamin C.
The benefits of a liposomal supplement include boosting the immune system due
to higher vitality and provides long-lasting supply due to the higher strength
of absorption. It is also proven to lower toxicity and allow for easier
manipulation. However, higher absorption can also lead to increased potency
levels within the body if expressed at elevated levels (Hank ,2018).

 Hence, major focus has been directed to nanotechnology
for delivery drug vehicles. More specifically, liposomes, which are being
utilised to improve therapeutic index, enhance drug destruction to the target
site and overcome tissue uptake. 

Pharmaceutical Chemistry and technology
is at the forefront of reshaping nutrition and health in the future. This may
include strategies to improve drug metabolism, to reduce side effects of
certain drugs or helping the malnourished in neglected regions. Scientists are
constantly finding economical and convenient ways to deliver drugs to the
target site to produce optimal impact. Though it is common for drugs to be
administered orally or intravenously, some have resided in unacceptable side
effects or have shown no progress in the patient’s health status. As an
example, the elderly people are at a higher risk of poor nutritional status due
to weaker bones, lower metabolism and have higher susceptibility to infections. There are
instances where treatment can be difficult as the medication may not reach the
desired target thus producing poor therapeutic effect. A probable reason for
this includes lower salivation within the old age which causes bulky drugs to
stick to the oesophageal mucosa.  Another
issue is failure to comply to the recommended dosage due to hearing impairment,
poor memory and mobility (Van,2018). Hence, we need to find
more methods to improve drug metabolism for all ages that cover a spectrum of
health problems. As a result, this will enhance overall health and well being
in patients.

Some would then argue that herbal medicine is better for
improving overall nutritional status and health. There are some plants which
contain medicinal or ‘drug-like’ properties which are much safer and less toxic
when administered. People dismiss the usage of synthetic made medications as it
is also more economical and available in larger quantities. Despite this, the pharmaceutical
industry is progressively getting better every year with strict regulation from
the FDA.  These chemical medications are helping
to relieve symptoms faster through higher potency and quick drug metabolism, residing
in lower impact on the patient’s nutritional status (Karimi A, et al., 2015).

There were instances where drugs were withdrawn from the
market due to compromising nutrition and health in patients. A drug called
Baycol (Cerivastatin), developed in 1997, was developed to lower cholesterol
and blood triglyceride levels. If certain foods were taken in conjunction to
Baycol, such as red yeast rice, this would produce an additive effect. Though
U.S. doctors prescribed over 20 million prescriptions, this drug was eventually
withdrawn from the pharmaceutical markets due to deadly health effects. It
caused a degenerative disease called “rhabdomyolysis” which is the breakdown of
muscle fibre. Consequently, people suffered from kidney failure and 52 deaths
were reported (Curt D, et al., 2001). Another example was Fenfluramine
(Pondimin), which was developed as a weight loss pill in the U.S. However, it
was proven to be dangerous to the heart valves and was immediately removed from
the markets in 1997 (Blanck M, et al., 2004).

 Even once the drug
has entered the markets, the FDA will be constantly monitoring and regulating
prescription drug advertisements. It is illegal to advertise inaccurate health
claims and drug developers must always provide the possible side effects. It
should be noted that the FDA is legally not required to approve vitamin and
mineral supplements. Hence, patients must be cautious when reading the
‘beneficial’ health claims as it could have consequences on their health (FDA
,2018).

 The drug nutrient interaction is important to
assess once the drug has been administered into a patient. There are some drugs
and nutrients which follow absorption, metabolism and excretion via the same organs
(Benedetti
S, et al.,2009). Hence, drug treatments can have adverse effects on a
person’s nutritional profile and requires the FDA to examine the drug
metabolism.

The pharmaceutical industry also
relies on the marketing side to promote sales and increase revenue. People need
to read labels on marketed drugs and its possible health effects that could compromise
nutritional status. There are specific rules and regulations accompanying the
promotional sales of drugs. Drug development involves 5 major stages including
discovery, production and pre-clinical assessment (lab and animal testing).
This is followed by clinical research (tested on humans) and if successful, the
research is reviewed by the FDA (Food and drug administration). The data is
thoroughly examined and then the FDA committee make a final decision to approve
or disapprove the drug (FDA ,2018).

Concepts of biotechnology have also
been applied to the improvement of malnutrition in third world countries. A
popular example is the genetically engineered, ‘Golden rice’, which expresses
high levels of beta carotene (precursor of Vitamin A). Vitamin A deficiency is
prominent in underdeveloped countries and significantly effects pregnant women
and children. This can lead to defective vision, blindness and impaired
skeletal growth. Though golden rice is not a drug, it is still a supplementation
of vitamin A, which is genetically inserted into rice to provide a therapeutic
effect (Mayer,2018). Hence, an assessment of how much pro-vitamin A
the body can absorb must be tested using a bioavailability study. Over 250
million children under 5 were diagnosed with this micronutrient deficiency
resulting in over 2.5 million deaths (WHO, 2018).

There are drugs that are required
for less severe issues such as tacking a cold, allergies and nutrient
deficiencies. Nutrient deficiency is extremely common, as most people lack sufficient
intake of vitamin D, iron and calcium. Though micronutrients are required in lesser
amounts, an inadequate intake can cause health problems long term.  As an example, pregnant women with a folate
deficiency are at higher risk of developing anaemia resulting in lesser red
blood cells.  Lower levels of folate can
lead to birth defects and disturb the developmental growth of the foetus.
Therefore, a tablet of folic acid can improve the levels of folate in a
pregnant woman (Jin, 2017). This is just one example of how pharmaceutical industry
is being used to improve nutritional status. Another micronutrient deficiency
is malabsorption, which is the body’s inability to absorb nutrients. Plausible
reasons for malabsorption include damage to the intestine from an infection,
trauma, celiac or crohn’s disease. However, the pharmaceutical industry has
developed enzyme supplements which assist the body to absorb the nutrients as
well as vitamin supplements. Though it is beneficial to obtain nutrients from fresh
whole foods, for some people, this is not a viable option. Hence, the pharmaceutical
industry has engineered these supplements to help boost people’s overall health
(Healthline
2018).  

This paper will
discuss how the medicinal chemistry industry is responsible for improving   overall nutritional and health status in
patients. It will elaborate on how other science disciplines such as
biotechnology are being used in conjunction to improve malnutrition in suffering
countries. Discussion will also be directed towards the importance of marketing
in this industry and how some drugs were withdrawn from the markets due to determinantal
side effects. Finally, there will be an analysis of how this industry will reshape
the future of nutrition.      

 

It is therefore clear why
civilisation has become highly dependent on pharmaceutical medications and
supplementation to recover from poor health and nutrition. Medicinal Chemistry
is in demand for designing and developing drugs/supplements. It is a broad
field within science, majoring in the chemistry discipline. It also considers
innovative ways to improve drug targeted delivery using modern technology.  

Alcohol has also become intrinsic
to modern culture as it is the most consumed item at social events.  Though alcohol is fine in moderation, some
misuse alcohol to treat other problems leading to alcohol abuse. Consequently,
impairing the proper functioning of the liver, kidneys and increased chances of
pancreatitis. Another health and nutrition issue that has been raised by The
World Health Organisation (WHO) is malnutrition in underdeveloped countries.
 Countries including South East Asia and
Africa are suffering from extreme undernourishment due to poor food access,
water contamination and poor medicinal facilities. Hence, this increases their susceptibility
to food borne diseases.

Another causation of
deteriorating health is the impact of marketing culture and their influence to
increase purchasing power of unhealthy products. Examples include the
advertising of processed and refined products with unnaturally high sugars, fat
and salt content. Social media and sensationalism is partway to blame for
causing body dysmorphia leading to bulimia or anorexia, especially in young
women and men. This includes the portrayal of ‘ideal’ body shapes in popular
magazines with the promotion of fad diets stating unreasonable health claims.
Additionally, comorbidity has risen, where 60% of people with an eating
disorder are likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness (Golden C ,2018).

Nutrition is critical in shaping
one’s mental, physical and social health. If we eat responsibly, it can provide
us with essential nutrients to sustain a balanced diet throughout life.  Despite this, overall health and well-being is
declining globally, whilst mental illnesses, chronic diseases and obesity are
rising. As a result, society has become heavily dependent on medication or
supplements to compensate for suffering health. Reasons include the busy work
culture which has limited time for people to make nutritious meals and rather
encouraged the regular intake of fast food. Adaptation to this lifestyle has
also shown people skipping meals due to mounting stress levels that work
culture demands.  We have also put emphasis
on purchasing low cost, generously portioned-sized, energy dense foods which has
spawned an obesity epidemic (Buchmueller & Johar, 2015). Research
shows that 28% of Australian adults were obese in 2014-15, which had risen from
19% in 1995 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare,2018).