Deuterium has been the focus of pharmaceutical research for some years because it can ensure that drugs are broken down 5, 10 or even 50 times more slowly. "We call this the kinetic isotope effect," explains Prof. Dr Andreas Gansäuer of the Kekulé Institute for Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Bonn (Germany). The reason for this is that many reactions, including the degradation of active substances, do not occur spontaneously. They first need a slight "push", the activation energy.
This means that introducing deuterium instead of hydrogen into drugs causes them to have a longer effect. They can therefore be taken in lower doses or less frequently
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