My OpenLearn Profile
- Personalise your OpenLearn profile
- Save your favourite content
- Get recognition for your learning
Pain, Pus and Poison
The search for modern medicines.
1st June 2021 at 11:55PM
Pain has a profound effect on our bodies - when we are experiencing it, millions of nerve cells deep within our brains are firing, telling us 'it hurts' - and for centuries the challenge has been to find something that will lessen or even switch off these sensations to bring us relief. Dr Michael Mosley discovers just what pain is, why we want to control it and how we ultimately did it when the discovery of morphine, the world's first pharmaceutical, at the beginning of the 19th century led to a 200-year journey of scientific breakthrough, discovery and self-experimentation.
Infection can take over the entire human body, and if our immune systems aren't strong enough we will die - in fact, infectious disease has regularly wiped out millions of people across the planet. Dr Michael Mosley explores our earliest attempts to tackle infection and reveals the moment we began to harness the power of microbes to fight back. This is the story of how scientists, chemists and doctors helped us win the battle, from Louis Pasteur to Howard Florey, and how a small team of dedicated men and women wiped out one of mankind's deadliest diseases - smallpox.
Dr Michael Mosley ends the series with a look at poisons, exploring the turning points when scientists went from finding antidotes to poisons to applying poisons as a cure - celebrating the eccentrics and mavericks whose breakthroughs were to pave the way for some of the most striking treatments of modern medicine. Of the medicines explored in this series, those that are derived from poisons are perhaps the most extraordinary. The story of turning poisons into medicines encompasses the planet's most deadly substances, in which we turned killers into cures.
Long-term medical problems can change your life - but you have control. Could you balance your work and social life with medication regimes? Would you be able to advise a friend?Take part now ❯Choose Health: Managing long-term conditions
This degree examines the science behind health. From individual health to global issues like epidemics or the treatment of dementia. You'll study scientific concepts that underpin the function of the human mind and body. Explore the incidence, diagnosis and treatment of disease and disability. And examine the maintenance and improvement of health in different populations. It's particularly relevant if you work in, or aspire to work in, a health-related profession.Learn more ❯BSc (Honours) Health Sciences
Our biology degree is for those inspired by the natural world. Studying with the OU will enable you to gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of life and biological processes involved. Explore diverse subject areas from the cellular and molecular levels to whole organism survival. Biology encompasses all living species, explaining their diversity via evolutionary origins. It defines their anatomy and structure, describes their physiology and behaviour, and provides scientific rationales for their habitat requirements and ecosystem interactions.Learn more ❯BSc (Honours) Biology
Learn about the structure, properties and reactivity of molecules. This fundamental knowledge plays an integral role in our understanding of the world. Chemistry is a broad subject ? including organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry and analytical chemistry. And it can include other fields such as biological chemistry and environmental chemistry. You'll gain a thorough understanding of the subject while developing your investigative, practical and scientific literacy skills.Learn more ❯BSc (Honours) Chemistry
This key introductory module introduces the science of human health and is structured around eight globally important health topics, ranging from nutrition and infectious diseases to pain and breast cancer screening. Each topic integrates key concepts in the biological, chemical and physical sciences with psychology and health statistics to illuminate the causes of disease and disability and the consequence for individuals and populations. You will also develop the skills you need for further study of the health sciences, including evaluating evidence; handling numbers; presenting data; writing skills; and using information technology.Learn more ❯Science and health: an evidence-based approach
This introductory science module encompasses astronomy and planetary science; biology; chemistry; earth and environmental sciences; and physics. A series of questions, starting with 'Can you make a hole in water? and 'How do you know what is alive?', teaches scientific thinking. You will undertake a number of practical experiments, both 'hands-on' in your own home and online. This module is the entry point for the natural sciences degree, and develops generic study skills, maths skills and investigative skills alongside key concepts in science.Learn more ❯Questions in science
Chemistry is fundamental to our modern world, touching all aspects of our lives; food, health, materials, energy and our environment. Indeed, the solutions for many of the challenges facing the world will require Chemistry as a key facilitating science. This highly interactive module provides a broad foundation in organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry. It explores organic compounds and their synthesis, spectroscopic analysis, the Periodic Table and the reactivity of metals and non-metals, bonding and molecular shape, thermodynamics and kinetics. The practical nature of chemistry will be emphasised throughout. There will be an optional, laboratory-based residential school. The cost of accommodation, meals and travel for the optional residential school is not included in the module fee.Learn more ❯Chemistry: essential concepts
Chemistry lies at the centre of our modern life, playing a part in areas as diverse as the development of new drugs and materials, analysing our environment through to more mundane activities such as washing your clothes and making your tea. But to truly understand the role chemistry plays you need to have a sound grasp of a number of fundamental principles. This free course, Discovering chemistry, introduces you to some of these concepts, beginning with the idea that everything that you can see is made of building blocks called atoms. This leads on to a look at the chemical elements and how they are arranged in the Periodic Table, enabling chemists to rationalise patterns in their chemical and physical behaviour. Next you will consider chemical reactions, specifically how atoms combine with other atoms to form molecules, and how molecules combine with other atoms or molecules to form bigger molecules. You will meet simple (tried and tested) theories to explain the bonding in molecules and at how their shapes may be explained, and indeed predicted. And in a wider sense you’ll be looking at why reactions happen at all and how fast they go. This is also a beginner’s level course in the language of the chemist; you’ll learn about symbols, formulas and how chemical equations which represent reactions are constructed. Finally you will see how chemists count atoms and molecules, essential for making up solutions of a known concentration in order to carry out a reaction, or performing a chemical analysis.Learn more ❯Discovering chemistry
Access to healthcare is important to all of us. Did the arrival of state medicine in the twentieth century mean that everyone had access to good medical services? If you fell sick in 1930 where could you get treatment from a GP, a hospital, a nurse? This free course, Medicine transformed: On access to healthcare, shows that in the early twentieth century, access to care was unequally divided. The rich could afford care; working men, women and children were helped by the state; others had to rely on their own resources.Learn more ❯Medicine transformed: on access to healthcare
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.Learn more ❯Pain and Aspirin
Professor Claire Turner - Professor of Analytical Science, Faculty of STEM
I am an analytical scientist and have spent all my research career-monitoring biological systems. My most recent research interests are in using volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as markers for disease.
My particular research interests are in the analysis of VOCs from breath or the headspace above clinical samples of urine, blood, serum, sputum etc. in order to diagnose a disease or monitor the health of an individual.
I am also particularly interested in digital innovation in teaching, and how we can use these innovations in supporting students to learn difficult concepts.