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Pharmacy and pharmacology

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Pharmacology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of drug action, where a drug can be broadly defined as any man-made, natural, or endogenous (from within body) molecule which exerts a biochemical or physiological effect on the cell, tissue, organ, or organism (sometimes the word pharmacon is used as a term to encompass these endogenous and exogenous bioactive species). More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function. If substances have medicinal properties, they are considered pharmaceuticals.

The field encompasses drug composition and properties, synthesis and drug design, molecular and cellular mechanisms, organ/systems mechanisms, signal transduction/cellular communication, molecular diagnostics, interactions, toxicology, chemical biology, therapy, and medical applications and antipathogenic capabilities. The two main areas of pharmacology are pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. Pharmacodynamics studies the effects of a drug on biological systems, and Pharmacokinetics studies the effects of biological systems on a drug. In broad terms, pharmacodynamics discusses the chemicals with biological receptors, and pharmacokinetics discusses the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of chemicals from the biological systems. Pharmacology is not synonymous with pharmacy and the two terms are frequently confused. Pharmacology, a biomedical science, deals with the research, discovery, and characterization of chemicals which show biological effects and the elucidation of cellular and organismal function in relation to these chemicals. In contrast, pharmacy, a health services profession, is concerned with application of the principles learned from pharmacology in its clinical settings; whether it be in a dispensing or clinical care role. In either field, the primary contrast between the two are their distinctions between direct-patient care, for pharmacy practice, and the science-oriented research field, driven by pharmacology.

The origins of clinical pharmacology date back to the Middle Ages in Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine, Peter of Spain's Commentary on Isaac, and John of St Amand's Commentary on the Antedotary of Nicholas. Clinical pharmacology owes much of its foundation to the work of William Withering. Pharmacology as a scientific discipline did not further advance until the mid-19th century amid the great biomedical resurgence of that period. Before the second half of the nineteenth century, the remarkable potency and specificity of the actions of drugs such as morphine, quinine and digitalis were explained vaguely and with reference to extraordinary chemical powers and affinities to certain organs or tissues. The first pharmacology department was set up by Rudolf Buchheim in 1847, in recognition of the need to understand how therapeutic drugs and poisons produced their effects. Read more...

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Ball-and-stick model of linezolid

Linezolid is a synthetic antibiotic used for the treatment of serious infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria that are resistant to several other antibiotics. A member of the oxazolidinone class of drugs, linezolid is active against most Gram-positive bacteria that cause disease, including streptococci, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The main indications of linezolid are infections of the skin and soft tissues and pneumonia (particularly hospital-acquired pneumonia), although off-label use for a variety of other infections is becoming popular. Discovered in the late 1980s and first approved for use in 2000, linezolid was the first commercially available oxazolidinone antibiotic. As of 2009, it is the only marketed oxazolidinone, although others are in development. As a protein synthesis inhibitor, it stops the growth of bacteria by disrupting their production of proteins. Resistance to linezolid has remained very low since it was first detected in 1999, although it may be increasing. When administered for short periods, linezolid is a relatively safe drug; it can be used in patients of all ages and in people with liver disease or poor kidney function. (more...)


Featured pharmacology articles:

Acetic acid – Amphetamine – Antioxidant – Bupropion – [email protected] – β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid – Icos – Linezolid – Management of multiple sclerosis – Psilocybin – Serpin – Water fluoridation

Good pharmacology articles:

Adderall – Alprazolam – Aspirin – Benzodiazepine – Benzylpiperazine – Clindamycin – Doxorubicin – Frances Oldham Kelsey – History of aspirin – Mephedrone – Metformin – Methamphetamine – Methoxyflurane – Midazolam – Nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies – Percy Lavon Julian – Receptor antagonist – Selective glucocorticoid receptor agonist – Serotonin syndrome – Warfarin

Did you know ..

Aloin

  • ... that aloin (pictured), a natural stimulant-laxative produced by the aloe plant, is no longer deemed safe and effective by the US FDA?

Featured picture

Albert Hofmann at the 50th Anniversary of LSD Conference.

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