Applied pharmacology to biotechnology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course intends to provide students with the most recent applications of biotechology to pharmacology, with emphasis on new biotechnological drugs, drug discovery and individualization of drug therapies on the basis of patients genotype (pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics).
Expected learning outcomes
The students will learn about a selection of methodological approaches to study intracellular signalling pathways that are activated by ligand-receptor interaction in living cells, organotypic slices and entire organisms. When mastered, these techniques (in conjunction with the abilities and the competencies derived from the other courses) will allow the student to have a strong background on high-quality functional assays -based on optical imaging techniques- to study cellular responses triggered by the exposure to specific endogenous agonist or drugs.
The students will learn about up-to-date background knowledge needed for the full comprehension of the rapid progress of biotechnological drugs. Students will understand the evolution of the field with an historical perspective view showing the parallel development that drug and molecular biology fields experienced until their final merging in the new discipline. The protein and nucleic acid engineering, and the application of molecular biology in the generation of innovative therapies will be considered starting from approved biotechnological drugs.
Finally the students will learn about the genetic basis of drug responses, with deep insights into the use of pharmacogenetics for therapy personalization.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
All classes planned during the first trimester will be given as frontal teaching and as distance synchronous learning. In case of a new suspension of frontal lectures, all students will be asked to move to distance synchronous learning..
Each hour of lesson will be divided into 45' of formal teaching followed by 15' of discussion/interaction/question time. All lessons will be recorded and made available for students on the indicated platforms (i.e. Ariel, TEAMS, etc).

The program and the reference material will not change. Practical laboratory sessions (will be scheduled in January 2021 - as frontal teaching.

Unless otherwise specified, exams will be organized in classroom but if the student is unable to reach the building for COVID-related issues, other forms might be considered (this only apply for exams scheduled until the 31st December - 2020).
Course syllabus
Introduction: definition, history of biotechnology and pharmacology.
Main classes of biotechnological drugs, problems with the production and use of biologics, biosimilars.
Advanced therapies: general concepts, gene therapy: definition, vectors, current drugs in genetic diseases, oncology and future prospective in other therapeutic areas.
Therapeutic proteins: classifications and general concepts, hormones, fusion proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and their evolutions, immunotherapy.
Nucleic acids as drugs: classifications and basic concepts for antisense, ribozyme, aptamer, decoy and siRNA; focus on antisense oligonucleotides and aptamers: mechanism of action and the innovation brought by the last generation of antisense oligonucleotides.
Fluorescent tools for the study of receptors
Molecular properties and applications of fluorescent proteins
Use of fluorescent protein-based biosensors in monitoring ligand-receptor complex formation and downstream intracellular effects
Measuring intracellular Ca2+ concentrations and fluctuations in living cells and neurons
Drugs affecting the actin cytoskeleton dynamics
Genetic basis of individual drug response.
Effects of genetic variants on drug pharmacokinetics
Effects of genetic variants on drug pharmacodynamics
Clinical pharmacogenetics
Prerequisites for admission
Students must possess preliminary notions of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in order to understand the impact of individual genotype on drug response.
Teaching methods
Teachers give lectures for 5 ECTS (35 hours), using PPT presentations which are then deposited on the Ariel website. 2 ECTS (32 hours) are used for laboratory exercises on biotechnology methods used in pharmacology
Teaching Resources
Slides from teachers, original papers
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a written test, made of nine open questions. Two questions are dedicated to the practical activities carried out in lab The evaluation parameters used for each answer concern the completeness of the knowledge, the capacity for critical reasoning and the appropriateness in the use of specialized vocabulary. Each answer is evaluated in thirtieths, with the possibility of acquiring 33 points in the case of laude. Missed or incorrect answers are evaluated 0. The final result of the test coincides with the rounded arithmetic mean (17.6 = 18; 17.5 = 17). The results are communicated via SIFA. Following the communication, the students can view the tests and ask the teachers for explanations, on a date fixed in agreement on the day of the exam.
BIO/14 - PHARMACOLOGY - University credits: 7
Practicals: 32 hours
Lessons: 35 hours
Educational website(s)
Please contact to schedule a meeting
Via Vanvitelli, 32 - 20129 Milano Dept. Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine