Pharmacological in biotechnology and Molecular Biology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
BIO/11 BIO/14
Learning objectives
Biotechnologies generated a real revolution in drug discovery by providing novel therapeutic molecules and innovative research tools. Thus, the overall aim of the course is to provide the students with a comprehension of the technologies at the basis of the development of new biologic drugs and their relevance in current research for new drugs.
The module Molecular biology aims to deepen the knowledge of chemical structure, properties and functions of informational macromolecules (DNA, RNA and proteins), of molecular mechanisms that regulate the transmission and maintenance of information to better understand the functionality of individual genes and the genome, and to revisit basic principles and applications of the most commonly used methods in the laboratory to manipulate nucleic acids, isolate genes, and study their organization, expression and function. Aim of the module Biotechnology in Pharmacology is to revisit the changes occurred in the strategies applied to drug research and development in the last twenty years, describe current methodologies for the definition of drug targets and identification of therapeutic compounds and analyze the strategies currently applied and applicable in the near future for the generation of novel drugs.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course of Pharmacological Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, the student will have acquired knowledge of innovative molecular biology methods applied to the research of new pharmacological targets and drug development. Furthermore, with the knowledge developed with this course, the student will have developed the necessary critical sense to be able to increase his knowledge by moving into the ever-widening world of biotechnology in the pharmacological field.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Didactic methods
They will be defined in accordance with the University provisions that will be in force in the second semester.

Program and reference material
The program and reference material will not change.

Methods for verifying learning and evaluation criteria
The exam will take place remotely in oral form, in the manner illustrated on the University portal, using the Microsoft Teams platform or, where the regulations allow, in person, always in oral form.
The evaluation criteria will not change.

Further details and updates related to the evolution of the legislation imposed by Covid-19 will be published on the pages of the ARIEL website of the course (
Prerequisites for admission
The course is for students who have acquired knowledge of pharmacology and pharmacotherapy. The knowledge of the notions provided by the Applied Biochemistry course is also very useful for the full understanding of molecular biology methodologies.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is an oral test and consists in the presentation (in power point) of an article of scientific literature chosen from among those proposed by the teachers or proposed independently by the student, subject to its approval by the teachers. During the presentation, the student's critical skills will be ascertained, as well as the learning of the notions imparted in class, through specific questions relating to both the article and the topics covered in the classroom.
The criterion for assigning the mark is established on the basis of the level of knowledge of the topics covered in the classroom, the student's ability to exhibit with appropriate terminology and his critical skills.
Pharmacological in biotechnology
Course syllabus
The evolution of drug research and development in the pharmaceutical industry from the 1990s to today. Cost of pharmacological research and analysis of the reasons for the increasing increase in research and pharmacological development costs. Motivations of "friction" in drug research and development procedures.
The different phases in the research and development of a biological and synthetic drug at a preclinical level:
- search for new targets for drug action;
- identification of the active ingredient;
- absorption, distribution, metabolism and toxicology of the active ingredient in the study.
The contributions of biotechnology to modern pharmacological research:
- identification of the molecular basis of genetic and idiopathic diseases;
- the human genome project and its evolution. Pharmacological interest;
- techniques for sequencing and studying DNA functions;
- 'omics and their pharmacological applications;
- the developments of bioinformatics: creation of new languages and methods for the analysis of biological data;
- the philosophy behind the creation of gene ontology;
- strategies in creating biological databases;
- types of biological databases and their contribution to the search for new drugs
- reporter systems and imaging methods for the study of drug action;
- cellular engineering in the study and development of new pharmacologically active principles;
- animal engineering in the study and development of new pharmacologically active principles.
Outline of new therapeutic strategies:
- nucleic acids as drugs;
- gene therapy;
- cell-mediated therapy.
Teaching methods
Frontal lectures (3 credits) and laboratory exercises (1 credit)
Teaching Resources
Iconographic material of the lessons on the site
Molecular Biology
Course syllabus
Structure and chemical properties of nitrogenous bases, nucleotides and polynucleotide chains. Chemical structure of DNA, topological aspects and DNA topoisomerases. Physical structure of genomes and chromatin remodeling mechanisms. Content and organization of the human genome and E. coli. Gene structure and concept. Structural and functional versatility of RNA.
Transcription in prokaryotes and eukaryotes: structure and properties of RNA polymerases; molecular mechanism of the process; elements and factors for controlling transcriptional activity.
Pre-mRNA processing in eukaryotic cells: mechanism and functions of capping in 5 ', of polyadenylation in 3', of splicing (constitutive and alternative) and of RNA editing.
Pre-rRNA processing in prokaryotes and eukaryotes and ribosome biosynthesis.
Pre-tRNA processing in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. TRNA structure, aminoacylation reaction, genetic code.
Translation in prokaryotes and eukaryotes: molecular mechanism and translational and post-translational control.
Degradation of mRNA and proteins: mechanisms and regulation.
Regulatory RNA: riboswitch and microRNAs.
Genomic rearrangements and mobile genetic elements: recombination and transposition mechanisms.

Principles and applications of:
- membrane hybridization and nucleic acid labeling techniques with radioactive and non-radioactive methods;
- molecular or gene cloning in plasmid vectors for prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells;
- techniques for transformation and transfection of host cells and selection strategies of transformants and transfected cells;
- techniques for the analysis of gene expression at the transcriptional level (Northern blot, RPA assay, in situ hybridization, qRT-PCR) and translational (western blotting, immunoprecipitation, ELISA, immuno-cyto / histo-chemistry);
- techniques for studying the promoter and the regulation elements of mRNAs (transient and stable transfections, expression vectors and reporter genes);
- techniques for the analysis of gene function: in vitro mutagenesis, overexpression, substitution and gene inactivation; conditional gene expression systems; gene silencing by RNA interference (siRNA).
Teaching methods
Frontal lectures (4 credits)
Teaching Resources
Iconographic material of the lessons on the site
Molecular Biology
BIO/11 - MOLECULAR BIOLOGY - University credits: 4
Lessons: 32 hours
Professor: Colombo Irma
Pharmacological in biotechnology
BIO/14 - PHARMACOLOGY - University credits: 4
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Monday 9.00 a.m.
Via Balzaretti 9, DiSFeB