B6: Preventing and Treating Disease


B6.1: Vaccination

  • if a pathogen enters the body the immune system tries to destroy the pathogen.
  • vaccination involves introducing smll amounts of dead or inactive forms of a pathogen into the body to stimulate the white blood cells to produce antibodies. if the live pathogen then enters the body, the white blood cells can respond quickly to produce the correct antibodies, preventing infection.
  • if a large proportion is immune to a pathogen, its spread is greatly reduced. 
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B6.2: Antibiotics and Painkillers

  • painkillers treat the symptoms of disease but do not kill the pathogens which caused it.
  • antibiotics cure bacterial disease by killing the bacterial pathogens in the body
  • antibiotics have greatly reduced the death from infectious diseases.
  • more resistant strains of bacteria are emerging which is of great concern.
  • antibiotics do not destroy viruses as viruses reproduce inside the cells. it is hard to develop drugs which destroy viruses and not body cells too. 
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B6.3: Discovering Drugs

  • drugs used to be extracted from plants or microorganisms. 
  • penicillin was discovered by Fleming who found the penicillum mould.
  • most new drugs are synthesised by chemists, however the starting point may be a chemical extracted from a plant. 
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B6.4: Developing Drugs

  • medical drugs are tested extensively for efficacy, toxicity and dosage.
  • new drugs are tested in the lab on animals, cells or tissues. 
  • preclinical tests are carried out in the lab on cells, tissues and live animals.
  • clinical trials use healthy volunteers and patients. a low dose is given for safety and then increased to find the optimum dosage. 
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