The early stage research determines the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics of compounds from target identification, through lead identification and finally selection of the candidate drug. The selected compound will be tested for toxicity to cells and to animals and assays for the compound in biological fluids will be developed to allow its absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) profile to be determined.
Predicting the likely characteristics of a molecule in the way it is absorbed, distributed, metabolised and excreted is vital to prevent a lot of time and money being spent on compounds which are likely to be toxic in man. Hence accurate computer modelling of the likely properties of a compound is increasingly important.
Biochemists will contribute to the understanding of how the compound will be broken down within the body. A successful medicine will need to reach the right part of the body to act, and will need to remain in the body for long enough that doses do not have to be taken too frequently.
When dealing with compounds that have been selected for development, scientists working in DMPK look in depth into the proposed compound, to confirm the earlier data, and also to support regulatory submissions. The data generated can also go on to help explain toxicological or efficacy problems and aid planning of drug-drug interaction and phase 1 clinical trials.
Scientists working in DMPK will be part of a working team including chemists, pharmacologists and other biological scientists.
What is important in addition to academic qualifications is a good work ethic, enthusiasm, and confident communications skills.