top of page

Groundbreaking tool reveals how drugs affect men, women differently -- makes for safer medications

[Oct. 4, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]

Researchers have unveiled an innovative computer simulation that spotlights the distinct effects of medications on men and women. (CREDIT: Getty Images)

In a major step forward in the world of personalized medicine, researchers from UVA Health have unveiled an innovative computer simulation that spotlights the distinct effects of medications on men and women.

This revolutionary development is primed to pave the way for safer and more potent drugs in the imminent future.


The Gender Disparity in Drug Reactions

It has been well-documented that women frequently experience a higher number of liver complications from medications. Despite these known discrepancies, women are often sidelined in drug testing, presenting a glaring oversight in medical research.

Addressing this disparity, the adept team at UVA harnessed sophisticated computer simulations to craft intricate models of male and female livers. These models shed light on the gender-specific variations in liver responses to medications.


Related Stories:


Dr. Jason Papin, PhD, a pivotal figure behind this groundbreaking model from UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, elucidated, “There are incredibly complex networks of genes and proteins that control how cells respond to drugs. We realized the indispensable role of a computer model to unravel these critical clinical conundrums. We're optimistic that these models will consistently unveil insights pivotal for enhancing healthcare.”


The Alarming Prevalence of Drug Side Effects

Embarking on this trailblazing research, the team initially consulted the federal Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Event Reporting System. Their objective was to gauge the frequency of liver complications reported by both genders. Their findings were unequivocal; women persistently reported a higher incidence of liver-related adversities in comparison to men.

The Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) from the FDA was searched with AERSMine using liver-related terms. All reports with sex data were counted for each quarter and compared. *** indicates significance of p-value < .001. (CREDIT: PLOS Computational Biology)

To delve deeper, the researchers amalgamated vast troves of data, including gene activity and cellular metabolic processes, creating their pioneering liver simulations. The results were enlightening, unraveling the intricate nuances of how drugs interacted with male and female liver tissues.


A revelation from Connor Moore, a biomedical engineering student integral to this research, highlighted the profound discoveries. “The disparities we uncovered, notably in multifaceted biochemical pathways, were astonishing. We ardently hope that our findings underscore the imperative for future researchers to meticulously evaluate the impacts on both genders.”

Tasks Inferred from Differential Expression (TIDEs) is summarized. First, reactions are delineated as part of a metabolic subsystem. (CREDIT: PLOS Computational Biology)

The research has zeroed in on crucial cellular processes that elucidate gender-based differences in liver damage. With "hepatotoxicity" – liver toxicity – at the forefront, the team emphasizes the need for rigorous research in this domain. Their ultimate vision? To harness their groundbreaking model as a linchpin in the conception of safer pharmaceuticals.


Echoing this sentiment, Dr. Papin affirmed, “We're buoyant that these methodologies will be instrumental in addressing myriad queries where men and women display differential drug responses or disease trajectories. The advent of predictive computer models for multifaceted biological systems, akin to our study, is truly revolutionizing our approach to some of the most formidable biomedical challenges.”

Jason Papin, PhD, and his collaborators have created a potent new tool that will help prevent harmful side effects from drugs and medications. (CREDIT: UVA Health)

The implications of this study are vast, not only bridging the gender chasm in drug reactions but also propelling the drug development process into a new era. Christopher Holstege, MD, a key collaborator in this research, emphasized, “It's paramount that both genders are prescribed the apt dose of medications. The labyrinth of drug therapy implies that even minute alterations in dosage can precipitate toxicity in specific individuals.”


This trailblazing research has been meticulously detailed in the revered scientific journal, PLOS Computational Biology. Advocating for transparency and open knowledge dissemination, the article is accessible without barriers. It's noteworthy to mention that the UVA researchers remain disassociated from any financial interests in this groundbreaking work.

As the medical community worldwide pivots towards precision medicine and tailoring treatments to individual patients, UVA Health's novel tool emerges as a beacon, illuminating the path toward safer and more effective therapeutic solutions.

For more science and technology stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


Like these kind of feel good stories? Get the Brighter Side of News' newsletter.


Most Recent Stories

bottom of page