Clinical Pharmacology

Field adapted filter paper-based drug measurement methodologies

The Department of Pharmacology was established in 2003 to meet an unmet need for accurate and sensitive antimalarial drug measurements in the biological fluids of patients participating in clinical trials. It started as a single small laboratory with two staff and has grown substantially over the past decade. Today it is one of the world’s leading laboratories for the measurements of antimalarial and anti-influenza drugs.

Based in newly refurbished facilities, Pharmacology use a variety of sample preparation techniques (such as solid-phase extraction and liquid-liquid extraction) in combination with  LC-MS, LC-MS/MS and LC-UV methodologies.

Current equipment includes a high resolution Triple-TOF LC-MS system, 4 triple-quad LC-MS systems, 2 ion-trap LC-MS systems, 3 LC-UV systems, 1 liquid handler for automated sample preparation and 2 dried blood spot punching systems. The laboratory has its own QA/QC sub-department and all assays are developed and conducted to international guidelines and full ISO accreditation standards. A main focus of the drug measurement research is the development of high-throughput field-adapted filter paper methodologies.

A pharmacometric research group was established in 2007 and conducts pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modelling to further our understanding of infectious disease pharmacology. We conduct non-compartmental analysis and nonlinear mixed-effects modelling on a population basis which has already had a major influence on the currently recommended treatment regimens for malaria and influenza.

A biochemistry and drug discovery research group was established in 2014 and is focusing on metabolomic, proteomic and lipidomic research. By combining high resolution/high accuracy measurements with the isotopic pattern, molecular formulas can be generated with high confidence. This state of the art capability provides an essential tool in developing improved diagnostics, understanding pathophysiology, better treatment, discovering mechanisms of drug action and resistance, and new drug development.

The Department of Pharmacology conducts its own research and supports MORU and the wider network as well as external research groups with study design, drug measurements, pharmacometric analysis and interpretation of pharmacological results. We work in close collaboration with the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) in Ho Chi Minh City, and are active founding members of the WWARN (World Wide Antimalarial Resistance Network). The major three research themes are bioanalytical drug measurements, pharmacometric research and drug discovery research in the field of malaria, tuberculosis, influenza and other bacterial infections (see Clinical Pharmacology overview chart below).

Overview of the activities and research themes of the Department of Pharmacology