Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the course of EXPERIMENTAL PHARMACOLOGY the student
will be able
1.TO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND the pharmacological investigation
techniques applied in the researches for drug discovery and development
(functional studies, binding, biochemical tests, holistic and reductionist
systems, pre-clinical, clinical and observational studies) (knowledge and
2.TO USE THE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING ACQUIRED, so that he
will be able to propose experimental approaches to be carried out in the
characterization of drugs, (applying knowledge and understanding),
3.TO ANALYSE AND INTERPRET correctly and critically the results of
virtual experiments (independence of judgment)
4.TO CONSULT scientific database (learning ability)
5. TO COMMUNICATE the contents of scientific articles concerning topics
of a bibliographic research performed by student groups (communication
Basic knowledge of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy
Course contents summary
The EXPERIMENTAL PHARMACOLOGY course provides theoretical and practical insights into pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics (with determination of quantitative parameters), and provides a detailed description of the experimental methods applied in the study of drugs in systems with different degree of complexity in vivo and in vitro. Production and acquisition of results from preclinical and clinical studies, statistical analysis of data, interpretation in the light of scientific literature and their dissemination are presented.
The student can participate in a series of practical lessons concerning:
Participation in pharmacological experiments: construction of dose-response curve, determination of proteins and metabolites content, calibration curve, statistical analysis of results through the application of descriptive and inferential principles.
The course consists of lectures and practical exercises on the following topics:
Aims and importance of experimentation in Pharmacology.
Legislation for use and care of animals in the scientific research. Principles of 3R.
Management of animal housing
Experimental approach for the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of biological responses to drugs: experimental design, sources of variability, methods and techniques in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro, functional and binding studies.
Experimental models for the study of therapeutic efficacy of new molecules. Transgenic animals.
Pharmacokinetic aspects: mode of administration in vivo and pharmacokinetics in vitro and in vivo.
Elements of molecular pharmacology: drug-receptor interaction, agonists and antagonists, potency and efficacy, affinity and intrinsic efficacy of drugs; evolution of receptor theory, stimulus-response coupling systems, processes of desensitization.
Bioassay: Unit biological and international standards.
Cell culture and molecular biology techniques (western blot, PCR).
Assessment of toxicity and definition of therapeutic index: safety pharmacology, explorative and regulatory toxicity studies.
Clinical and observational studies, meta-analysis.
Elements of statistics and application examples: individual variations in the biological response, the frequency distribution curve, probit, the confidence limits of the mean, parametric (t-test, analysis of variance) and non-parametric tests linear regression analysis. Meaning and analysis of the experimental data with the use of statistical programs.
Discussion of a bibliographic research prepared by groups of students.
The part of the course concerning practical activities consists of:
1. Participation in experiments carried out in the laboratory as part of specific research programs. (study of cell viability, production of concentration response curves, dosing of proteins, inflammatory mediators and glucose, calibration curve)
2. Application of statistical tests for the analysis of experimental data:
the frequency distribution curve, the confidence limits of the mean, parametric (t-test, analysis of variance) and non-parametric tests (Chi square test), linear regression analysis, Schild analysis.
Teaching materials (slides e scientific articles) are loaded onto the Elly
platform before the lesson and made available to students after online
Books for further information:
GOODMAN & GILMAN S. The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics
DOLARA P, FRANCONI E, MUGELLI A: Farmacologia e Tossicologia
Sperimentale Pitagora Editrice, Bologna.
PAOLETTI R et al: Farmacologia generale e molecolare UTET
KENAKIN T: A Pharmacology Primer, Elsevier
The teaching is done through lectures supplemented by individual and
The theoretical aspects of experimental pharmacology (dose-response
relationship, gradual and quantal curves, determination of potency and
affinity for agonists and antagonists) are presented and commented in a
dialogic form and applied in practical lessons with student participation in
drug assays conducted in the laboratory or simulations of experiments
performed in classroom or exercises in statistical analysis of data. Groups
of students are driven in the organization and presentation of seminars,
through consultation of bibliographic sources. These activities are
designed to reinforce in each student the ability TO INTEGRATE
KNOWLEDGE, TO ANALYZE CRITICALLY complex issues and TO
COMMUNICATE clearly their own conclusions.
The teacher is available by appointment (e-mail) for lesson explanations.
Assessment methods and criteria
ORAL EXAMINATION allows the assessment of learning. The exam is
evaluated on a 0 -30 scale and the vote is immediately announced at the
end of the test. Each examination takes about 30 minutes.
Through questions regarding the theoretical content of the course it will
be determined whether the student has achieved the goal of
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING of the basic principles of
pharmacological experimentation, if the student has the ability of
APPLYING THE ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE in solving new and complex
problems, if he is able TO CONNECT critically the different topics and
demonstrates ACQUISITION OF LEARNING SKILLS and he has the ABILITY
TO COMMUNICATE clearly the pharmacological arguments. The
examination will be completed considering also the answers to questions
about virtual experimental situations.
At the beginning of the course the student is informed of the right to
express objection to animal experimentation in compliance with Law no.
413 of 12.10.1993 and invited to sign a form attesting the information