Master in Medicinal and Biopharmaceutical Chemistry

Principles of Drug Discovery



Learning outcomes

The main objective of this Curricular Unit is to introduce students to fundamentals of modern drug discovery process and to key drug discovery strategies currently used in pharmaceutical industry, highlighting the role of medicinal chemists. This unit is also conceived to provide students with a good understanding of basic concepts on drug-target interactions, measurement of drug effects, principles of pharmacokinetics and of drug toxicity, which are fundamental in a rational drug discovery and design process.
Thus, these learning outcomes are essential to students understanding of the topics developed in the following units of Drug Design and Advanced Drug Design.


  1. Introduction to the drug discovery Historical perspective, current status and outlook. Role of the medicinal chemist. Molecular drug targets. Drug-target interactions.
  2. Measurement and expression of drug Agonists, antagonists, affinity, potency and efficacy. In vitro experiments (binding studies, ligand-receptor interaction-induced functional effects, allosteric interaction, expression of functional effects, cellular and tissular functional responses). Ex-vivo and In-vivo experiments.
  3. Hit discovery Systematic screening (random/targeted, High-Throughput-Screening, SOSA, in silico, others). Fragment-based. Exploitation of natural sources.
  4. Principles of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity (ADMET). Molecular properties affecting absorption and distribution (ionizable groups, lipophilicity, PSA, HBA and HBD, Ro5). Metabolism and Metabolism and drug interactions.