What is Pharmacokinetics and What is Bioanalysis?
My job is to write 10,000 words a day on almost any subject you can think of (I'm a freelance copywriter is why) and that means that I have so much nonsense information rattling around in my head that I don't know what to do with it, but at the same time I kind of like knowing so much about such a broad range of things. Yesterday I was writing about bioanalytical chemistry and I realised it's kind of relevant to the Biomatrix. I condone the use of lots of health supplements, so here I'm going to share with you a little about what happens when you take them and how pharmaceutical companies measure this.
What Is Bioanalytical Chemistry?
So that's basically what bioanalytical chemistry is – it's looking at how chemistry interacts in our body – specifically how endogenous compounds react (those created within the body), but more often how 'xenobiotics' react ('unnatural' substances that you've ingested – such as creatine). That makes it useful for a whole range of organisations from pharmaceutical companies developing health supplements and medicine, to narcotics companies, to forensic experts. When you buy a supplement off the shelf though, suffice to say that it will have been subjected to a range of bioanalytical studies to make sure it's safe and to make sure they know what it will be doing once it's in your body – anyway that's the ideal.
There are a range of sub schools in bioanalytical chemistry and a lot of different processes and techniques they use to understand the effects. Here we're going to look at two of those processes – starting with pharmacokinetics.
What is Pharmacokinetics?
When I searched 'what is pharmacokinetics' online nothing came up and I found this wholly unhelpful. The results that were there were horrendously complex so bear with me and I shall try and look at what pharmacokinetics are in a way that doesn't hurt your head.
Basically parmacokinetcs look at the journey of a substance through our body – as in where it goes, how long it takes to act, and how it exits. This can be defined as what the body does to and with the drug, as opposed to what the drug does to the body and the effect it has. This involves the study of several different stages, conveniently abbreviated to 'LADME'. These stages are:
Liberation – How the active agent is released from the compound – usually by being broken up by the body's digestive enzymes presuming the medication is administered orally. This is the most recent addition and until recently it was known as 'ADME'.
Absorption – This is the point at which the active agent is absorbed into the circulation.
Distribution – This is the dispersion of the substances. In other words – once it's in the blood stream where does it get taken? To the muscles? To the brain? Or both?
Metabolism – Metabolism is the part where the compound is transformed by the body into its daughter metabolites. The body changing it into the usable form.
Excretion – Okay you probably don't need this bit explaining. Normally it means the item is excreted out in the urine or in the faeces (nice), though sometimes it will remain permanently in the body tissue.
This is very important to understand when you take a supplement to better know what's happening with it. For instance the distribution of GABA is a point of contention as while some people claim it is absorbed into the brain where it act as a serotonin-reuptake inhibitor, others will tell you it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier and thus has no use. Here the pharmacokinetics dictate whether the stuff actually works or not. Pharmacokinetics also tell us how quickly the substance acts, whether it might affect other areas of our body, and whether there are other ways it could be better administered.
What is Bioanalysis?
So what's bioanalysis got to do with all this? Well bioanalysis is one of the techniques that are used in order to understand the pharmacokinetics and generally one could not survive without the other.
Essentially bioanalysis is the quantification of substances – endogenous and xeno – in organic tissue. So in other words it is ways of finding how much of a compound is in a piece of tissue by staining it or using a range of other techniques. To work out whether or not a supplement makes it into the muscle then, someone might take a sample of muscle tissue after the supplement has been ingested, test that, and then know how much of the compound made it into the muscle.
Another area where bioanalysis is of course useful is for bodybuilding federations to test for steroids and other doping techniques by carrying out bioanalysis techniques on samples of competitors' blood.
So there you have it, some science for the Biomatrix. Do you feel cleverer now? I feel a little bit depressed actually...