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The Future of Gender-Specific Medicine

Gender specificity¬†plays a crucial role in the way disease affects one’s body. Researchers have found distinct differences in drug kinetics and dynamics in the body. However, they are often not accounted for. Examples include the fact that women, compared to men, have decreased gastrointestinal motility, larger fat stores, slower glomerular filtration rates and a decelerated secretion of stomach acid. The medicines, which have a different effect on men and women, include benzols, opioids, neuromuscular blockers, digoxin and warfarin.

Even though the Y chromosome contributed to only 500 genes, meaning that we share 99% of the 36,000 genes with the opposite sex, there are clear differences in how these genes are expressed. The genomic expression is dependent on and varies with gender. There is evidence that cellular behavior is affected by the gender of an organism; in other words, influenced by either male or female genetic material. This has effects on the human body starting upon implantation in the uterus. The relative conception rates show that male embryos are more likely to survive uterine implantation due to the sperm being less discriminative in egg choice. At the same time, they are also more prone to miscarriages as well as DNA mutations.

Although quite a lot of research has been conducted on the differences between male and female pathophysiology, there has been significantly less gender specific advances regarding medicines and pharmaceuticals. While it is known that drug interaction within the body is highly influenced by gender, gender-specific medicines are not widely used. Both men and women are prescribed identical treatments. For example, women must wait a longer time than men between eating and taking medicine on an empty stomach. This is due to delayed gastric emptying in female bodies.

The future of gender-specific medicine is very promising. The extensive research being undertaken could lead to a remarkable change in prescriptions, depending on one’s gender. This could increase the success rate of the medicines further because specificity will increase while the number of treatment failures in emergencies decreases.

Edited by: Nelli Morgulchik & Alyssa Linares

Legato, Marianne J. Principles of Gender-specific Medicine. Amsterdam: Academic, 2010. Print.
Safdar, Basmah, and Marna R. Greenberg. “Applying the Gender Lens to Emergency Care: From Bench to Bedside.” Academic Emergency Medicine 21.12 (2014): 1325-328. Web.
Soldin, Offie P., and Donald R. Mattison. “Sex Differences in Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics.” Clinical Pharmacokinetics 48.3 (2009): 143-57. Web.