In this module you will gain a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the cells, molecules and functions of the human immune system. You will learn about the role of the immune system in diseases such as autoimmune disorders and allergy. You will also learn about immunotechnology aspects including blood typing, transplantation, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, illustrating the value of immunology in diagnosis and therapeutics.
The innate and adaptive immune responses; the cellular and molecular components of the immune system; inflammation and vaccine adjuvants; role of dendritic cells and pattern recognition receptors (PRRs); antigen processing and presentation; role of B and T cells in immune responses; immunological techniques e.g. flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); immune tolerance and autoimmune disease; transplantation; tumour immunology; hypersensitivity; Monoclonal antibodies and therapeutics.
Biotechnology and Drug Discovery
This module will provide you with insight and understanding in one of the most exciting areas of modern biotechnology. You will learn to examine, critique and appraise established and emerging technologies used in drug design and discovery. You will also develop important, transferable scientific communication skills during interactive components.
Protein structure, function and post-translational modifications including glycobiology.
Culture systems: mammalian, insect, bacterial culture systems.
Recombinant proteins for therapeutic use.
DNA/RNA based drugs: antisense RNA; siRNA, microRNA.
Cell penetrating peptides.
High throughput screening strategies for new drugs/targets: genomics, microarray; proteomics, phage display.
Stem cell culture and applications
CRISPR genome editing
Drug delivery systems – Nanotechnology, viral, non-viral, mechano-chemical.
Current Practice in Drug Development
You will develop a demonstrable understanding of the principles of drug development at the molecular level and the practices currently adopted in industry. You will focus on the historical origins of existing drugs and contemporary methods being used to develop new ones. You will learn to appraise and analyse physical parameters and data on drug candidate molecules. Industry-modelled case studies, individual and group activities will enhance your presentational and organizational skills to achieve competency in workshop preparation and delivery; and in writing scientific research reviews.
Origins and new sources of drugs; natural products and new pharmaceuticals; the drug discovery and development process. Molecular modelling. Stereochemistry: a source of problems in medicinal chemistry. Structure-based drug design; pharmacophore-based drug design; QSAR. Physicochemical properties and drug design: electronic factors, lipophilicity, partition coefficient, steric parameters, prediction of drug-receptor interactions, ligand binding studies. Drug formulation, prodrugs. Computational techniques: analysis of conformational space, molecular graphics and the visualisation of molecules. Molecular diversity. Combinatorial libraries and modern methods of synthesis. Current approaches to the chemotherapeutic treatment of (selected) diseases: cardiovascular disease, inflammation, cancer, viral- and bacterial- infection, diabetes, asthma, cognitive disorders. Patent application procedures and IP maintenance; legislation.
Drug Design and Chemotherapy
The module is focussed on the chemical principles of drug design of new chemotherapeutic agents in relation to the identification and validation of emerging biological molecular targets. The emphasis is on major classes of life-threatening disease: notably, cancer; viral and resistant bacterial infection. You will learn to evaluate existing and new biological targets and contemporary drug design methods (chemical and biological) to combat these disease states. You will develop the skills required to conduct searching laboratory experiments and to produce written scientific reports to research publication standards. You will benefit from industry-based guest-lecturer input, in support of integrated lectures, tutorials, workshops, molecular modelling activities designed to develop your key skills and confidence necessary to work and progress in the field of drug research.
Emphasis on: molecular targets in cancer: characterisation and structure of biological targets (genes; enzymes; receptors; nucleic acids). Design, synthesis and mechanism of action of inhibitors of telomerase, the G-quadruplex, DNA-topoisomerases, matrix metalloproteinases. Targeted therapies, drug delivery mechanisms, design of prodrugs; macromolecular prodrugs and nanoconjugates. Synthetic oligonucleotides, PNAs, DNA-and RNA-binding ligands: design and applications. Synthesis and development of non-nucleoside antiviral agents: HIV integrase inhibitors, protease inhibitors. Peptoids and peptide mimics. Mechanisms of intrinsic and acquired drug resistance and MDR. Contemporary drug design to combat resistant bacterial and protozoal infections.
Laboratory work in selected drug synthesis, methods of purification and characterisation; solution and solid- phase combinatorial peptide methodology and biological (including enzyme) assays; molecular graphics.
Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology
The module will provide you with an introduction to the major aspects of the scientific study of drugs in man, not just with respect to the design of optimum drug therapy, but also looking at the differences between pharmacology and toxicology. You will learn about how drugs work, their limitations, and the variability of response. You will study how cells transduce messages from the plasma membrane into the cell and nucleus. You will learn about how the body’s endogenous signalling system works and how this informs drug development. This includes the basic principles of receptor theory, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and their relevance to establishing the theoretical and practical basis for the rational clinical application of drugs. You will also examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms of toxicology.
This includes the basic principles of toxicokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion), and the factors affecting each. You will examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms of xenobiotic toxicity, together with toxicity testing in the pharmaceutical industry. You will gain an insight into how intracellular signalling mechanisms can be manipulated, resulting in new research methodology. You will also engage with the literature surrounding molecular pharmacology and toxicology in order to understand recent developments in research in this area.
You will cover the concept of ion channels and G protein-coupled receptors, intracellular kinase cascades, calcium signalling and linked control of transcription factors. Manipulation of signalling cascades in therapeutics and research. Basic principles of receptor theory, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and rational drug design. Introduction to toxicology. Toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics. Detailed descriptions of specific toxicant and pharmacological examples. In vitro and in vivo models of toxicity. Mechanisms of xenobiotic toxicity and toxicity testing.
Quality Control & Pharmaceutical Analysis
You will develop an appreciation and understanding of solid dosage form manufacture carried out in industry and the quality control tests performed before a final dosage form reaches the market. You will gain knowledge of the combination of ingredients that make up pharmaceutical and nutraceutical formulations (API & Excipients) and the different types of tests, required at different stages in order to comply with the high standards required by regulatory authorities such as the FDA and MHRA.
In the laboratories, you will gain hands-on analytical experience on industry-standard equipment including HPLC and UV instrumentation. You will become familiar with different types of chromatography and learn how to operate, maintain and troubleshoot these techniques. You will learn how to handle and prepare solid dosage forms for analysis by spectrophotometric and chromatographic analytical procedures and you will maintain GLP/GMP compliant lab books.
You will benefit from guest lectures and workshops from industry-based professionals from CMOs (contract manufacturing organisations) and CROs (contract research organisations) which will give you the insight necessary and preparation for work in the pharmaceutical, health, medical devices and food industry.
Formulated drug products (FDPs); Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs); and excipients which make up the formulation, binders, disintegrators, solubilizers, taste masking agents. How choice of excipients determines parameters such as PK (pharmacokinetics) and route of administration of the medicine.
A range of batch release tests conducted by the industry defined by the appropriate Pharmacopeia’s; raw material testing, validation batch testing, assay of active content, degradation and stability studies, dissolution profile testing, uniformity of dosage units and physical characterisation.
Instrumental analytical techniques including UV/Vis spectrophotometry, TLC, HPLC and Mass spectrometry. Theoretical and practical knowledge of different types of chromatography.
Practical HPLC operation for analysis of pharmaceutical samples, maintenance and troubleshooting. Mobile phase preparation, standards and sample preparation and API extraction for analysis. Analysis and quantification of multi-component systems.
Knowledge of ICH guidelines and regulatory standards (such as MHRA) and processes for originator, generic and biopharmaceutical industries.
Maintenance of a GLP compliant lab book and knowledge of GMP.
In this module you will conduct an independent piece of research, either as a practical laboratory-based project, or a piece of qualitative research (e.g. surveys). This involves design, development and implementation of a programme of research in a particular field of study relevant to your programme of study. You will critically analyse data/information generated, and communicate the outcomes in a written report, which will develop your skills in scientific writing. This will give you experience in summarising information and presentation skills.
On-line literature searches. Literature review. Project formulation. Hypothesis generation. Experimental design. Development of practical skills/research technique. Data generation/collection and analysis. Use of appropriate statistical analysis. Evaluation of findings, critical analysis and conclusions, with reference to supporting literature. Communication of original research results in a report written in the style of a scientific paper.
In this module you will relate the physico-chemical properties of RNA, DNA and protein to the common methodologies and technologies used for molecular analysis. In doing so, you will understand the parameters that can be varied in the optimisation of a methodology and will be able to predict the effect of alterations to these parameters. You will study the current developments that are taking place in molecular analysis and critically review the application of this technology to areas of interest in biomedical sciences and biotechnology. A series of practical laboratory sessions will help you gain experience in commonly-used practical techniques relating to the lecture material. DNA purification, restriction and quantification; Cloning – vectors, ligation, screening and analysis of clones; Gene expression and protein purification; Protein analysis – quantification, detection and mass spectrometry; Principles of nucleic acid hybridisation and DNA synthesis to applications in PCR, sequencing microarrays and gene silencing techniques (RNA interference); In silico analysis and manipulation of RNA, DNA and protein sequence information (bioinformatics); “-omics” – comparative and functional genomics, proteomics.
* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.