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General medicine
Drug discovery today: no molecules required
  1. Alexander Y Panchin1,
  2. Nikita N Khromov-Borisov2,
  3. Evgenia V Dueva3
  1. 1 Sector of Molecular Evolution, Institute for Information Transmission Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  2. 2 Department of the Mathematical Modeling and Analysis, Almazov National Medical Research Centre, Saint Petersburg, Russia
  3. 3 Vancouver Prostate Centre, Department of Urologic Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Evgenia V Dueva, Vancouver Prostate Centre, Department of Urologic Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6H 3Z6, Canada; edueva{at}

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During the last fifteen years, numerous peer-reviewed journals published articles about the incredible properties of so-called release-active “drugs” (RADs).1–24 It is claimed that these “drugs” are effective against tick-borne encephalitis, influenza, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, meningococcal meningitis, herpes, HIV, and other viral and bacterial infections, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, sleep disorders, obesity, chronic inflammatory joint diseases, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, chronic cerebral ischemia, benign prostatic hypertrophy, alcoholism, allergies, and many other health problems.18 25 In addition, it was publicly announced that they would provide new opportunities to overcome antibiotic resistance and significantly improve the prospects for the treatment of certain forms of cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, and stroke.26 Surprisingly, these innovative “drugs” contain no active molecules and can be considered a new brand of homeopathy. This indicates one of two possibilities: either we are at the brink of a revolution in medicine or that something went wrong with research published in numerous academic journals. We argue that the latter explanation is more likely and that this conclusion has severe implications for the scientific and healthcare enterprises.

Release-activity as disguised homeopathy

Release-active ‘drugs’ (RADs)1–24 are manufactured by a single Russian company called OOO ‘NPF ‘Materia Medica Holding’ (MMH).25 26 According to the original patent by its founder and CEO Epstein et al,27 these preparations consist of ‘activated forms of ultra-low doses of antibodies conventionally designated as potentiated (dynamised) antibodies (by analogy with the terminology used in homeopathic literature) for treatment of various pathological syndromes’. The problem is that typical dilutions of the active ingredient are so high (from 1:1024 to 1:101991) that no molecules of the initial antibodies should be present in the ‘drug’ itself. The inventors claim that although the ‘drugs’ activity ‘originates from the initial substance, it does not depend on its negligible …

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  • AYP and EVD contributed equally.

  • Contributors AYP and EVD: conceived the idea of the work and wrote the manuscript draft. NNK: performed statistical analysis and wrote the Supplementary Letter 1 draft. All authors contributed to the literature search and preparation of the manuscript. All information sources used to prepare this article are publicly available.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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