We may all be affected by chemicals, particularly those in our food, such as preservatives, and in the medicines we use, but also for some people in their working environment. Some chemicals are harmless, while others are helpful because they can prevent or treat disease. The concern of our group is mainly with the harmful effects of chemicals. These can be present alongside beneficial effects, especially in some medicines.
Our aim is to understand in detail how the human body is affected by chemicals, so that we can advise on how to reduce or avoid their harmful effects. The response to chemicals by the body can be variable and be affected by factors like genetic make-up. Harmful effects can also depend on how the chemicals enter the body. Effects can differ depending on whether the chemical is swallowed, breathed in or simply in contact with the skin.
Skin contact with pesticides is a particular concern and one which we have studied a lot. We are also attempting to measure the effects of fairly small amounts of chemicals, to provide ways of giving early warning of the start of harmful effects. We study the adverse side-effects of medicines, including how conditions such as liver disease and heart disease can develop in people taking medicines for completely different medical conditions.
Our long-term aim is to develop tests so that certain medicines can be used more safely, especially warfarin, which is widely used in older people to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks, and some antibiotics. We are also concerned with how to use medicines safely during pregnancy so that any danger to the unborn child is minimised.
If you are concerned the effects of any drugs or chemicals, you should contact your doctor to discuss it. If you are interested in finding out more about drug treatments and our research, or are interested in participating in our research you are encouraged to contact Prof Ann Daly.