The two scientists developed an array of new drugs that were effective
against leukemia, autoimmune disorders, urinary-tract infections, gout,
malaria, and viral herpes. Their success was due primarily to their
innovative research methods, which marked a radical departure from the
trial-and-error approach taken by previous pharmacologists. Elion and
Hitchings pointedly examined the difference between the biochemistry
of normal human cells and those of cancer cells, bacteria, viruses,
and other pathogens (disease-causing agents). They then used this information
to formulate drugs that could kill or inhibit the reproduction of a
particular pathogen, leaving the human host's normal cells undamaged.
The two reseachers' new emphasis on understanding basic biochemical
and physiological processes enabled them to eliminate much guesswork
and wasted effort typical previously in developing new therapeutic drugs.
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