After this course you will be able to:
1. Describe the interaction between ligands (drugs, substrates) and their macromolecular target (receptor, enzyme); both qualitatively - and quantitatively (ligand binding and enzyme kinetics, inhibition)
2. Describe the role of membrane receptors and other receptors involved in signal transduction cascades in the cell in health and disease
3. Describe cellular processes related to the use of novel drugs, like RNAi
4. Perform protein analysis techniques like SDS-PAGE, Western blotting
5. Use protein databases, DNA databases, disease related databases, and search for gene or protein homology.
6. Write a receptor report about a receptor and its interaction with a specific drug and you will present these data in an oral presentation.
7. Write a short research article, according to the standards used for scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals like ‘Nature’ and ‘Science’
The course consists of two main project assignments, 1) the Receptor Report, in which you will work in small teams of 2 to 4 students, and 2) the Short Research Article that you will prepare on your own.
The required background knowledge to complete the assignments will be collected through lectures, workshops, practical assignments and laboratory experiments.
You will discover how drugs act within the cell, and in particular how they act at the molecular level. Basically, there are two kinds of drugs against disease, these are the ‘small molecule’ drugs (a low molecular weight organic compound, typically between 300-700 Da, e.g. aspirin) and the ‘biopharmaceuticals’ (a high molecular weight biomolecule, like a vaccine, a therapeutic antibody, or RNAi).
Starting with the ‘key-and-lock’ model, you will learn about the role of ligands and receptors, and about the interaction of drugs with their molecular targets in the cell. You will get familiarized with drugs like growth-factor receptor antagonists, signal transduction pathway inhibitors and enzyme activity blocking agents, as well as with drug targeting approaches to improve the efficacy and/or selectivity of drugs.