What you will study
From Hippocrates to modern times, society has sought ways of relieving pain and curing or preventing disease. From ancient wisdom to herbal remedies, there have been important discoveries resulting in the development of medicines that are commonplace today. Modern research at the molecular level constantly adds to the range of drugs available to combat ill-health.
After a brief introduction (which discusses the development and testing of drugs within a social and economic setting), you’ll move on to explore the discovery and development of a range of drugs and medicines. You’ll find out how drugs interact with and affect their target areas in the human body and do activities to help you to visualise the three-dimensional structures and shapes of the molecules concerned and to develop an understanding of how the drugs work. The story includes topics on how aspirin relieves aches and pains, Ventolin treats the symptoms of asthma, penicillin combats harmful bacteria and Tamiflu helps in the fight against bird flu.
The course makes use of some basic ideas from chemistry and develops some of the skills associated with studying our world at the molecular level. Chemical ideas are explained when they are needed. However, if you are entirely new to the language of chemistry, you will need patience while you become familiar with the vocabulary, and practice applying the new skills that you are learning. The reward will be an understanding of some of the science behind the discovery, development and mode of action of a range of medicines and drugs.
This course has been partly funded by the Wolfson Foundation in collaboration with The Royal Society of Chemistry.
By the end of this course you should be able to:
Demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, concepts, principles and language relating to the development of medicines. In particular, you should be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of:
- the science behind the development of some drugs to achieve particular tasks
- how chemical bonding determines the properties of compounds and provides an explanation for the mode of action of drugs.
- the socio-economic perspective behind the development of some drugs and some possible future developments in medicinal chemistry.
The course features the distinctive strengths of The Open University (OU) from its years of expertise in distance learning:
- The convenience of accessing its clearly presented and sequenced materials, activities and support whenever suits you and wherever you have access to the protected course website – if you prefer, you can print key materials to work on them offline.
- The support of an expert learning adviser who can clarify study materials, answer questions and help you relate the course to your specific needs.
- An online interactive quiz that you can attempt as many times as you wish to help you test your own learning.
- A statement of participation from the OU which you can use to demonstrate your engagement with the course. (N.B. The course does not carry academic credit points.)
Some of the pages within the course contain links to external sites. Accessing these sites is part of the allocated study time for the course. You may also wish to undertake additional background study or reading if some of the concepts introduced are completely unfamiliar to you.
Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, dedicated website and computing helpdesk.
This course will require around 100 hours to complete.