What are reactive medicines, magic bullets and magic shotguns?

Professor Hallux and Nurse Nanobot are finding out!

Reactive medicines are drugs which make something happen or stop something happening in the body.

Magic Bullets

Say you were poorly with tummy ache… if you’d eaten something with germs in it, then a doctor would prescribe a medicine that targets those germs and kills them.

But if you’d eaten something something spiky which made your tummy sore, then you’d be prescribed a medicine to soothe the soreness.

There’s a name some people use for medicines that target specific things…

Ones that stop something in particular happening (like stopping nasty germs)… or start something happening (maybe activating a biological process to help fight sickness or change the way the body and brain communicate)…

These types are medicines are called Magic Bullets!

They’re known as Magic Bullets because they have a specific target – and they get in there and do it!

Magic Shotguns

Medicines today are often designed to “fix it all”, rather than targeting just one thing.

That’s because we have a much better understanding of how the body works and the effects that illnesses can have. Often a number of parts of the body may be involved – not just the bit that’s hurting or is damaged.

Germs change and adapt, meaning that old medicines might not work anymore or not as good as they used.

New medicines have to be a lot smarter – doing a number of jobs, not just one, and working more quickly and sometimes helping to ensure the disease or pain doesn’t come back.

These types of medicines are called Magic Shotguns!

They’re known as Magic Shotguns because they attack on lots of fronts – not just one!

They might be blasting into the body’s biology and starting some processes, stopping others, changing the chemistry or the way different parts communicate with each other.


Part of that fighting an illness might be things which aren’t medicines at all, things like counselling – that’s talking about illnesses, and even exercise can be part of the mix.

But remember – before you can choose which medicine to use, you still need to know what the cause of the problem is.
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Hallux’s Miraculous Medicine with support from Wellcome Trust and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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