The IUPAC Chemistry and Human Health Division ( Division VII) met during the General Assembly last August in Busan, Korea. The annual meeting of the Division is an opportunity for the committee to review the progress of existing projects and to discuss possible new initiatives. Projects will usually result either in IUPAC recommendations or in technical reports and books. Division VII recognizes members for meritorious service to IUPAC and to the health sciences in general through its Emeritus Fellows Program. Up to three Emeritus Fellows are appointed each Biennium. Professor Doug Templeton and Professor Robin Ganellin were the most recently recognized. A brief review of the Division mission and organization follows.
The mission of Division VII is to promote pure and applied chemistry in the service of human health and well-being. Major aspects are the development of therapeutic drugs, the standardization of clinical laboratory methods, and the protection of humans from potential harmful substances. All three sectors have seen many new developments in the past 20 years, and Division VII helps IUPAC and the chemical community to keep up with the rapid changes in health-related areas.
Division VII is composed of three different subcommittees, each with their own objectives accomplished through project activities. The Drug Discovery and Development (DDD) subcommittee is focused on providing information and tools that can be utilized by medicinal chemists in their research activities directed toward new disease treatments. The Toxicology and Risk Assessment (TRA) subcommittee has projects that are concerned with identifying the possible risk of chemical agents on human health. The Nomenclature for Properties and Units (NPU) subcommittee’s objective is to ensure that, in clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine, there is a common understanding of what is being measured in a biological system and how the results will be expressed.
Subcommittee on Drug Discovery and Development (DDD)
One of the goals of this subcommittee is to provide information to medicinal chemists that shows how to be successful in their discovery of new agents for the treatment of common and neglected diseases. A series of three books on Analog-based Drug Discovery has been very popular and a new series on Successful Drug Discovery is underway. Successful courses on medicinal chemistry techniques have been given in parts of the world where research activities are less developed—surveys of research activities in such laboratories have provided information to a broader group of scientists, with the hope of enabling synergistic interactions. Many glossaries of terms have been published which have been utilized extensively by workers in these fields.
The IUPAC Richter Prize was established in 2006 to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the practice of medicinal chemistry or to the discovery and development of new drugs. To date, five scientists from different countries have received this prodigious award. The next award will be presented in 2016 (see announcement p. 27).
Subcommittee on Toxicology and Risk Assessment (TRA)
The ever increasing use of chemical materials in the workplace and in daily life is accompanied by the possibility of unwanted health effects due to accidental or intentional chemical exposures and emissions. Today’s problems make it necessary to reevaluate older chemicals according to present day test standards, including the evaluation of novel in vitro methods, the quantification of risks of chemical emissions, and the study of the interaction of these chemicals with biologically relevant molecules. Projects dealing with these issues have been carried out by the subcommittee. Toxicology is an interdisciplinary science, and a common terminology is essential. To help in this understanding, the subcommittee has produced a number of glossaries, explanatory dictionaries, and books on concepts in toxicology. It has also developed course material for teaching schoolchildren about hazardous chemicals in their environment. A joint project with the Chemistry and the Environment Division (Div IV) is developing a document critically discussing the use of nanoparticles in human health applications, such as drug delivery, in vivo imaging, food technology, and cosmetics.
Subcommittee on Nomenclature for Properties and Units (NPU)
In laboratory medicine one of the most basic challenges is to ensure that there is a common understanding of what is being measured in a biological system, as well as how the results will be expressed and in what units. To address this issue, the subcommittee has partnered with the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry (IFCC) and the Danish National e-Health Authority (DeHA) to develop, test, and refine an intuitive and comprehensive NPU terminology. This is essential to providing quality assurance and to unequivocally interpreting the results of clinical laboratory analysis. In 2014, a formal agreement between the three partners was developed to provide a template for greater international promotion of the NPU terminology as an aid to harmonized practice and better patient safety.
About the author
Scientists interested in participating in activities related to Chemistry and Human Health are invited to contact the Division President, Tom Perun <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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