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Pain and Aspirin

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What causes pain and how do we stop it? This free course, Pain and Aspirin, looks at how the human body responds to the release of certain chemicals and as a result feels pain. Pain can be reduced by inhibiting the formation of such chemicals and you will learn how the molecular structure of aspirin has been formulated to help in this process.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, concepts and principles relating to the development of medicines
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the science behind the development of some drugs to achieve particular tasks
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how chemical bonding determines the properties of compounds and provides an explanation for the mode of action of drugs
  • apply this knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar situations
  • express unit concepts in an objective and factually correct way.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 9 hours
  • Updated Thursday 24th March 2016
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Biology
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Pain and aspirin


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In this course you will find out that the sensation of pain is caused by the release of a chemical called prostaglandin that stimulates the nerve endings and sends an electrical message to the brain. Inhibiting the formation of prostaglandin reduces pain and we will see, by looking at the specific shape of the molecules involved, how aspirin can so inhibit the formation of prostaglandin. To make the most of the material of this course you will need to use an organic molecular modelling kit such as the one that is supplied by Molymod to Open University students who study the module that this course comes from.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course : SK185 Molecules, medicines and drugs: a chemical story [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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