New thyroid drug

Has a reversible effect

Published: Wednesday 31 May 2006

researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have developed a drug against hyperthyroidism which, unlike other medication, has an effect that is reversible.

G Mugesh and his student, Gouriprasanna Roy, from the institute's department of inorganic and physical chemistry, modified the anti-thyroid drug, methimazole, by replacing the sulphur molecule in it by a selenium molecule. The new drug blocks the thyroid hormone synthesis by reducing hydrogen peroxide, which in turn inhibits the enzyme needed for production of thyroid hormone. However, increasing the concentration of hydrogen peroxide can reverse the action of the drug.

Reduction of hydrogen peroxide also benefits the thyroid gland by protecting it from damage caused by free oxygen molecules in the body due to physiological reactions. The study has been published in the November 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (Vol 127, No 43). The group is now trying to take the work to the application stage and prove its mechanism of action.

The drug has also demonstrated an additional use. "The drug has been found to be 50,000-60,000 times more effective than the antioxidants being tested and this too could prove to be an effective direction for research," says Mugesh.

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