Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course will introduce students to the use of plant-derived products and will provide explanations regarding the use of plants and their derivatives in various pharmaceutical sale segments: pharmeceuticals, drugs, nutritional and food supplements, herbal or cosmetics products. In particular the relationship between plant secondary metabolism, the structure and organization of the plants, the production of drugs and other bioactives of natural origin will be deepened.
Course contents summary
The course is organized in a general and a monographic section. In the first, the following topics will be covered:
- Plants in drug-discovery: ecological and evolutionary explanations.
- Relationship between organography (root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit), histology, cytology and biosynthesis/accumulation of secondary metabolites, including the role of secretion and storage structures.
-Active ingredients and key substances of medicinal plants (essential oils, alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, gums, mucilage, resins, gum resins, oleoresins) and their meaning physiological and ecological meaning.
- Factors affecting biosynthesis and content of secondary metabolites of pharmaceutical value, including biotic, abiotic, natural, artificial factors and consequences the translation from plants to drugs.
- Quality control: morphological and microscopic examination of drugs, genetic analysis, chemical analysis.
- Definition of food supplement, medical device, drug and cosmetic product. Relevant information in their packages and their connection with previous notions.
Basic desctiption and commercial examples regarding:
- Cosmetic plants
- Bitter and digestive plants
- Plants as antibacterials
- Plants used against parasites and as insect-repellents
- Plant-derived sweeteners
- Plants as sources of antioxidants
- Plants as sources of excipients
- Plants used with phytoestrogenic purposes
The monographic section will provide key botanical, processing and phytochemical details on a number of plants used in pharmaceuticals, food supplements, in cosmetics and toiletries.
Bruni et al., Biologia farmaceutica. Biologia vegetale, botanica farmaceutica, fitochimica - Con MyLab + eText Ed. Pearson, 2014.
The activities will be carried out by privileging active learning methods and providing also case studies in order to establish a link between everyday life of students (such as consumers and future pharmacists) and the main topics of pharmaceutical botany. The slides used to support the lessons will be uploaded weekly on Elly platform as well as other in-depth multimedia materials (both in Italian and English) aimed at providing the above-mentioned case studies and other elements useful to develop a critical interpretation of plant-based health products. To download the slides and access the reported material, the students will need to enroll in the online course through the Elly platform. All the slides and any other material thus made available are considered an integral part of the teaching material and thus of the exam program.
Assessment methods and criteria
The final exam (oral) will cover all the topics of the program. The student will be asked to demonstrate its capability to use the basic concepts of each topic.