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This subject will provide an overview of modern drug discovery and development, with an emphasis on the pharmacology that underpins the endeavour. The social, economic and scientific challenges facing contemporary drug discovery and development with respect to choice of suitable drug targets will be discussed; current drug targets, including receptors and enzymes, will be highlighted. Strategies – contrasting the complementary chemical-to-target and target-to-chemical approaches – to identify and optimise lead compounds will be presented. The material will include a discussion of small molecules as well as “biologicals”, such as antibodies and nucleotides. A description of how these lead compounds become drug candidates and are characterised with regards to their pharmacodynamic (receptor binding and activation), pharmacokinetic (ability to reach their site of action) and toxicological/safety pharmacology properties will be provided. Finally the approaches to bring an identified drug candidate to the market will be examined. This part of the subject will consider the necessary human clinical trials, regulatory requirements and ongoing monitoring of approved drugs. The subject material will be presented via a combination of lectures, associated online learning materials, and “hot topic” tutorials. The latter will focus on recent innovations in drug discovery, and will serve to highlight the close relationship between basic science and actual therapeutic agents.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject students should:
- have developed a clear understanding of the strategies and processes that underpin modern drug discovery and development.
- have a detailed knowledge of the pharmacological principles that support drug discovery and development, and therefore of the vital role that pharmacologists play in this endeavour.
- be well placed to appreciate future developments and challenges in the field of drug discovery and development as they occur.
By the end of this subject, students will:
• be adept at learning in a variety of ways
• be able to examine critically, synthesise and evaluate knowledge from multiple sources
• have gained experience in independent learning
Last updated: 26 November 2022