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The University of Southampton

NATS3006 Drugs of the future: designing a magic bullet

Module Overview

The Natural Sciences degree programme is based on a backbone of modules that employ context-based (also referred to as problem-based or active learning). This approach to learning places significant responsibility on the students to identify sources of information, to retrieve technical information, to assess information critically and to apply relevant information to a specific task or problem. This module provides students with in introduction to drug design from medical, chemical and structural biology perspectives.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • the ability to access and interrogate protein structure databases
  • a good understanding of how to design an inhibitor matched to a given active site structure
  • a critical understanding of protein-inhibitor binding kinetics and thermodynamics
  • skills in determining protein-inhibitor binding kinetics
  • the ability to determine the effectiveness of a new inhibitor
  • ability to analyse, interpret and present complex information from cutting-edge research publications
  • strategies for acquiring, collating and presenting information from literature, written and oral
  • ability to defend own work


The module will be delivered in the context of designing, synthesising and evaluating a small-molecule inhibitor of a target protein. Three main areas will be addressed: structural biology & databases, pharmacokinetics and inhibitor design, as well as medicinal applications. Topics include retrieval and analysis of 3D structure models, comparison of atomic models, and visualisation using the software PyMOL. Enzyme kinetics, enzyme inhibitors as well as ligand-receptor binding kinetics, IC50 and dose responses are discussed. Animal models and testing of novel drugs are discussed, as are medicinal applications.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The philosophy underlying this course is to empower students to take charge of their own learning in the area of rational drug design. As a consequence, this module will make extensive use of directed and peer-assisted self-learning methods. Includes learning and application of a graphics display software for atomic structure models of biomolecules, as well as presentation of data in different formats (assay, oral presentation, poster presentation.

Practical classes and workshops20
Independent Study100
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Individual Oral Presentation 30%
Poster presentation and defence 40%
Written analysis 30%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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