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A technique that can get new medications to the market sooner


Narrator:    This is Science Today. Using a technique called ‘microdosing,' researchers are able to test minute amounts of new drugs to see what effects they have on a patient. Ken Turtletaub, group leader of pharmacology and toxicology at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says this can help get new medications to the market much sooner.

Turtletaub:    You can tell whether it's likely to be good for people very early on and you can either drop it or you can go back and start to modify its properties to make sure it will be useful for people. And the hope is that by doing this, you can reduce the time to develop a drug and you can also reduce the cost.

Narrator:    The Lab is using Accelerated Mass Spectrometry, or AMS, to label a minute dosage of a drug with an isotope called carbon-14 to measure how it works. Carbon-14 has been used for years to date geologic events and artifacts.

Turtletaub:    AMS is one of the tools that's starting to be used more by pharmaceutical companies. The concept of microdosing is relatively new. Our role in this really is to develop the technology and understand what needs to be done to make it more useful.

Narrator:    For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.