Challenges facing society – University of Copenhagen

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Research > Strengths > Interdisciplinary strengths > New medicines > Challenges facing society

Challenges facing society

Effective and affordable medicines

The University of Copenhagen has research strengths in understanding disease – particularly diabetes, cancer, and neurological disorders, e.g. Alzheimer's. Coupled with specialist areas such as genetics, bioinformatics, biophysics, medical chemistry, drug delivery, nanotechnology and clinical research, the University of Copenhagen is playing a leading role in the development of the medicines of the future, helping make them effective for the individual and at the same time efficient for society in terms of keeping costs down despite a growing and ageing population.

Individual ailments and treatments

The main objective of the development of new medicines is to treat sick people as effectively as possible. The goal of personalised medicine is that a sick person will only be treated with medicines that it is known in advance will work on the individual concerned. The goal is to cure the patient with the fewest possible side effects. This is a problem for many cancer patients. Another aim of personalised medicine is to make the treatment so effective that society does not waste unnecessary resources on ineffective treatments. By researching the biology of diseases right down to molecular level, and understanding how they arise and develop, researchers are able to identify very precise targets for medicine in the form of, for example, receptors on diseased cells. Rather than taking a scattergun approach, medication can be targeted and made more effective for both the individual patient and society.

Multidisciplinary approach

A multidisciplinary approach is needed to the development of new medicines. Basic biomedical research interacts with the natural and engineering sciences and with clinical research in hospitals. Disciplines studied at the University of Copenhagen cover the key research elements that go into developing medicines:

  • from ideas to new methods of treatment
  • identification of new targets
  • medical chemistry
  • pharmacology
  • toxicology
  • animal models
  • how we diagnose
  • how we conduct research into the treatment of humans and animals
  • how we use medicines

In addition to the core disciplines, the development of new medicines also builds bridges to research into chemistry, biology and economics. Treatment of diseases is the main aim of research into medicine, but the research also contributes to studies into prevention within, for example, lifestyle diseases, ageing, and nutrition.