Part II: Hanky-Panky in the Pharmaceutical Industry - RANT

Alan J. Robinson robin073 at
Mon Sep 25 09:51:37 EST 1995

On Sun, 24 Sep 1995 10:00:27 UNDEFINED, 
Peter H. Proctor  <pproctor at > wrote:

>      Since you brought up the credentials questions:   How about an MD 
>and a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology,  plus board-certification by both 
>the major PhD and MD Toxicology boards.    Try to get someone more qualified.
>Peter H. Proctor, PhD, MD
>American Board of Toxicology ( as PhD )
>American Board of Medical Toxicology ( as MD )


Toxicology can be a tricky business (in humans).  There is still 
much that is missing in the basic science concerning the body's 
response to threats such as toxins, so even an education in the 
subject doesn't always mean we have the answers.

There appears to be substantial variation in the body's response due 
to genetics, and even state dependent changes.  I've spent some time 
looking into the debrisoquine hydroxylase (Cytochrome P450 IID6) 
polymporphism, discovered by Prof. Jeffery Idle of the U. of 
Newcastle, U.K.  This polymorphism is weakly correlated with 
susceptibility to lung and breast cancer, and the speculation has been 
that the enzyme produces toxic metabolites.

However, I think a better explanation is that this gene exerts its 
effects through the CNS (dopamine), and is part of a whole pool of 
genes which amongst other things affect the regulation of the immune 
system and tissue repair.  Hopefully this will all get sorted out in 
the not too distant future with the development of the QTL 
(quantitative trait locus) method of genetic investigation.

Whether knowing an individual's genetic susceptibility profile will 
allow us to better manage exposure risk is an open question.  I would 
suspect that it may turn out to be impractical in many cases, so that 
total elimination of the toxin may be the only solution.


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