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Technique monitors drugs where they work.

By using a very tiny probe that reaches into the knee joint, scientists can now track arthritis drugs in action.

Pharmacologists typically study drugs by monitoring concentrations in blood or urine, but those levels do not necessarily represent what actually reaches an arthritic joint, says Robert L. St. Claire III, an analytical chemist at Glaxo Research Institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C. He and his colleagues are developing methods for analyzing chemicals in increasingly smaller spaces to understand better how the body processes medications.

For this procedure, the researchers inject a systemic drug into anesthetized rats with arthritis. They insert one probe into the knee joint and another into a muscle next to the joint. As the researchers slowly pump a fluid through each probe, the liquid flows up against a membrane over the probe tip and causes molecules to diffuse from the joint or muscle into the probe. The fluid then carries these molecules into a liquid chromatograph designed to measure minute quantities.

"The synovial cavity [of the rat] is the size of the head of a pin," says St. Claire. "So the ability to go into a site is quite spectacular."
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Title Annotation:tiny probe shows how body processes medication
Author:Pennisi, Elizabeth
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 12, 1992
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