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Pain and Aspirin
What causes pain and how do we stop it? This unit looks at how the human body responds...
What causes pain and how do we stop it? This unit 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.
By the end of this unit you should have achieved the following learning outcomes.
- demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, concepts and principles relating to the development of medicines. In particular:
- the science behind the development of some drugs to achieve particular tasks;
- 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;
- be able to express unit concepts in an objective and factually correct way.
- receive and respond to information obtained from text and models, as well as from numeric, pictorial and audio sources;
- communicate information clearly, concisely and correctly.
- (if you obtain a model kit) construct and manipulate models of molecules.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Ouch – that hurts!
- 1.1 Why does it hurt?
- 1.2 How does it hurt?
- 1.3 The aspirin story
- 1.4 The molecules involved
- 1.5 Some chemistry involving esters
- 1.6 How does aspirin relieve pain?
- 1.7 Enzymes
- 1.8 Enter aspirin!
- 9 Summary
- Next steps
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Pain and aspirin
In this unit 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 unit 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 course that this unit comes from.
This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course Learn about molecules, medicines and drugs which has been partly funded by the Wolfson Foundation in collaboration with The Royal Society of Chemistry and you can study for credit., or
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 17th October 2013
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
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