PM3DS3-The Uses of Metals in Medicine

Module Provider: Pharmacy, School of Chemistry
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites: PM1DS1 Drug Design and Synthesis : Basic Organic Chemistry PM2MMP Medicinal Chemistry for Pharmacists (Drug targets) PM2PA1 Pharmaceutical Analysis
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2012/3

Module Convenor: Dr Katja Strohfeldt-Venables


Summary module description:
This module introduces the concepts and general principles relating to metallo-therapeutic drugs, metal-based diagnostic agents, drug discovery and development, and treatments for metal and heavy metal poisoning. Thus the course will include bioinorganic chemistry, preparative chemistry, analytical chemistry and aspects of pharmacology and pharmacy practice related to metallotherapeutic drugs and metal-based diagnostic agents. By discussing case studies for the discovery and development of metallotherapeutic drugs, this module will consolidate the students’ knowledge of the drug discovery process, and introduce new opportunities that have arisen in the post-genomic era.

(1) To introduce concepts of bioinorganic chemistry of pharmaceutical relevance; (2) To consider risks and advantages associated with metal-based drugs; (3) To discuss concepts and principles related to the study of metallotherapeutic drugs and metal-based diagnostic agents, including their syntheses, analyses, quality assurance, biological activities, modes of action, stabilities and metabolism; (4) To further illustrate the process of drug discovery and development using selected case studies; (5) To introduce treatment regimes for metal and heavy metal poisoning.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of the Module the student will be expected to:
•Describe key concepts of bioinorganic chemistry that are relevant to pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry, for example principles of inorganic chemistry reactions and redox systems.
•Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms of action, uses, and limitations of the major groups of metallotherapeutic drugs and diagnostic agents, with reference to a range of disease states.
•Explain mechanisms of toxicity of metallotherapeutic drugs and the approaches used to minimise / circumvent toxicity
•Explain the key issues relating to the quality assurance, handling, and reconstitution of metallotherapeutic drugs and diagnostic agents
•Outline methods for the preparation and analysis of common metallotherapeutic drugs and diagnostic agents
•Discuss how selected drugs were discovered and developed, and use this to illustrate some of the principles of drug design and development, and outline new opportunities for drug discovery
•Suggest methods for treating metal and heavy metal poisoning
•Work within COSHH guidelines
•Measure materials, and prepare solutions, with high levels of accuracy and perform accurate pharmaceutical calculations relating to doses

Additional outcomes:
Through problem-based learning and self-directed learning the student will develop communication skills and the development of self-learning skills for lifelong learning. Through directed reading the student will learn to survey, retrieve and organise published relevant material from electronic and other sources. Students will develop advanced preparative and analytical chemistry skills, particularly within bioinorganic chemistry, as well as problem-solving skills.

Outline content:
1.Synthesis, Analysis and Development of Metallotherapeutic drugs: The following concepts will be discussed with reference to specific classes of metallotherapeutic drugs, e.g. lithium, calcium, iron, aluminium, arsenic, silver, gold, platinum and titanium based drugs.
a)Choice of metal for incorporation within the metallotherapeutic drug, and an overview of the bioinorganic chemistry of the metal. Discussion of why metal-based drugs are important: opportunities, risks, advantages and limitations.
b)Therapeutic properties of metallotherapeutic drugs, to include examples of recommended therapies for common diseases such as cancer, hypertension, asthma, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease (using the BNF as a guide). Bioavailability and metabolism of metallotherapeutics. Safe handling / administration of metallotherapeutics in the pharmaceutical setting. Expected side effects.
c)Chemical methods for the synthesis and analysis of commonly encountered metallotherapeutic drugs.
d)Drug Discovery and Development: Case studies involving the development of metal-based drugs (for example i) the transition metal-based anti-cancer drugs cis-platin, carbo-platin, oxali-platin, and new derivatives; ii) arsenic drugs such as Salvarsan; iii) silver and gold based drugs such as Silvadene, Myocrisin, Aurofin) will be presented to exemplify traditional drug discovery strategies as well as introduce modern tools for drug development. Future prospects for metal-based drugs.
2.Introduction and Principles of Metal-based diagnostic agents: By discussing the following applications the value of metal-based diagnostic agents will be exemplified.
a)Paramagnetic metal complexes as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging, e.g. Manganese compounds.
b)Radiodiagnostics and radiopharmaceutical agents: Development, mode of action, risks, clinical applications, QA, dispensing of commercial materials, routine production methods for Tc-99m kits, pharmacopoeial standards for radiopharmaceuticals.
3.Identification and treatment of metal and heavy metal poisoning: Symptoms, detection, diagnosis, treatments, prevention and prognosis of poisoning by metals and heavy metals, e.g. Mercury, Thallium, Arsenic, Iron, Lead. Principle and examples of chelating agents, e.g. EDTA, DMSA, ALA, BAL.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course content will be provided through a mixture of formal one-hour lectures, workshops / seminars and practical laboratory classes. Appropriate supplementary information and reading lists will be provided and facilities for computer-aided literature searching for additional relevant materials will enable students to improve their own learning skills.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 18
Seminars 4
Tutorials 8
Practicals classes and workshops 12
Supervised time in studio/workshop 1
Guided independent study 57
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Oral assessment and presentation 10
Practical skills assessment 20

Other information on summative assessment:
Coursework: Students attend tutorials / workshops on the material covered in this module. Attendance is compulsory. Practical work is assessed through work in the laboratory and the resultant reports. A health and safety test has to be passed prior to each individual practical class. The tutorial and practical reports must be submitted by the dates identified. Directed reading on aspects of metallotherapeutic drugs and metal based diagnostic agents will be set and group presentations will be made and assessed.
Coursework deadlines: Last day of the autumn term for the submission of the laboratory write-up.
Relative percentage of coursework: Practical work 20%. Group presentation 10%

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.
    (Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

    Length of examination:
    One 90 min written paper during the Part 3 examination period: 70%.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall (but see progression requirements in programme specifications). Attendance of workshops and practical classes is compulsory for the coursework mark to be included in the assessment.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Reassessment is by written examination only during the University examination period (August/September).
    Reassessment is based on coursework (30 %) and examination (70 %). For students who have achieved a pass in the coursework at the first attempt, the mark will be carried forward to the reassessment.

    Last updated: 30 January 2014

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