Professor Luke O’Neill leads the Inflammation Research Group in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology, TCD. The main interest of his team is to provide a molecular understanding of innate immunity and inflammation.
Since antiquity humans have taken drugs. Originally these were in the form of plants such as marijuana which was in fact the first drug ever depicted (on the Ebers papyrus from ancient Egypt) it's use being as an anti-inflammatory agent. Other plants such as the poppy, coffee plant or tobacco had benefits as did fermented plants which produced alcohol. The very first drug synthesised was aspirin, which was a derivative from salicylates from the willow bark. A striking feature of several medicines in widespread use was the serendipitous nature of their discovery- good examples being penicillin and Viagra. The pharmaceutical industry today spends billions on trying to find new medicines. What are the challenges and might it be true that most drugs are good for us, the only concern being dose and frequency of use? What are the prospects that new medicines will be found for diseases that still afflict us?