The main objective is to provide the students with a general knowledge about how active molecules from natural sources have been lead compounds that have been modified to improve the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics properties. In particular, specific objectives will be: (i) historical evaluation of how pharmacological research has developed in the past, focusing on the role of products of natural origin; (ii) analysis of the mechanism of action of the active principle and therapeutic applications of the drugs.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student will have to know the history of the development of drugs starting from the active molecules present in natural sources, the therapeutic applications and the side effects.
The program of the course can be split into two parts: a general one, during which broad concepts relevant for the course will be explained (general definitions of active molecule, study of the factors that can affect its quantity and quality, pharmacokinetics, bio-fractionation) and a specific part during which we will take into consideration examples of molecules that have been modified to develop drugs currently in use (from salicylates to the aspirin, from coumarin to warfarin, taxol to develop anticancer drugs, from cocaine to lidocaine), development of antihypertensives from snake venom, from opium to opiates, from Claviceps Purpurea to LSD, from Galega officials to metformin, from papaverine to verapamil, from glycyrrhetinic acid to carbenoxolone).
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of biology and pharmacology is required to adequately deal with the contents of the course.
The teacher will use face-to-face lessons. The attendance to the lessons is strongly recommended.
The slides of the lectures are available on the ARIEL website. All the topics of the lectures are not covered in a textbook. For the notions of Pharmacology it is suggested to consult the book "Farmacologia generale e molecolare" by Clementi and Fumagalli, while for the notions of pharmacognosy the textbooks are "Farmacognosia e Fitoterapia" by Mazzanti, Dell'Agli, Izzo and "Fitoterapia" by Capasso, Grandolini, Izzo.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will tackle all the parts of the program and the student should demonstrate to have acquired the basic concepts of any subject. The exam is written and the total examination time is 2 hours. The exam is constituted of 7 multiple choices questions (2 points each) and one open question (16 points). A lesson at the end of the course is dedicated to exam preparation with test simulations. The teacher will evaluate the basic knowledge and the ability of the student to logically organize the knowledge of the history of the development of drugs starting from the active molecules present in natural sources, the therapeutic applications and the side effects. The final mark is in thirtieths and will be communicated when the final vote is registered with the possibility of rejecting the outcome of the exam. The teacher is available to review the exam with the students.