cod. 00062

Academic year 2020/21
3° year of course - Second semester
- Stefano BRUNO
Academic discipline
Biochimica (BIO/10)
Discipline biologiche e farmacologiche
Type of training activity
64 hours
of face-to-face activities
8 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

1. Knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
- Know how to classify proteins that are drug targets and recognize their specific functional and structural properties (Part I)
- Know and understand possible mechanisms of drug action from a biochemical point of view (Part I)
- Know and understand the main biochemical methodologies described in the course (Part II)
- Know and understand the principles of each methodology in molecular details (Part II)
- Know and understand the components of the instruments described in the course (Part II)

2. Applying knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
- Identify the possible mechanism of action of a drug once its target is known (Part I)
- Recognize the possible mechanism of inhibition of an enzyme, based on the alteration of its kinetic parameters (Part I)
- Recognize the type of interaction between a drug and a receptor based on experimental observations (Part I)
- Identify the most suitable technique to obtain functional or structural pieces of information on macromolecules (Part II)
- Correctly represent a dataset graphically (Part II)
- Process simple datasets and their graphic representations to obtain structural and functional pieces of information (Part II)
- Query the biochemical databases illustrated in the course to retrieve information on proteins and genes (Part II).

3. Communication skills. At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
- Discuss the topics described in the course in a clear, concise and effective way.
- Describe the chemical structures of the main compounds and the mechanisms of enzyme and chemical reactions illustrated in the lectures (both Part I and Part II) with the correct scientific vocabulary.
- Describe any proteins in terms of secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure (Part II).
- Represent schematically the main biochemical techniques

4. Learning skills. At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
- make connections between the various topics of the course and those dealt with in other courses (particularly in the biochemical, pharmacological and physiological fields).
- Improve future knowledge on the main biochemical issues by querying databases
- Improve future knowledge by reading scientific publications (reviews)
- Understand the potential of research in biochemistry.


Basic knowledge of biology, organic chemistry and biochemistry. It is highly recommended that the student has passed the Biochemistry exam before sitting the Applied Biochemistry exam.

Course unit content

The first part of the course focuses on the main biological macromolecules and on the major metabolic pathways as drug targets.
The second part focuses on the main biochemical and molecular biology techniques.

Full programme

• Biochemistry of drug targets
• The nature of drug targets
• Proteins as drug targets: Enzymes; receptors and signal transduction pathways, transmembrane carriers; pumps and channels
• DNA as a drug target: Drugs that interact with DNA.
• RNA as a drug target: antisense nucleotides and structural analogues.
• Drugs that interact with ribosomal RNA and other ribozymes.
• RNA interference.
• Membrane lipids as drug targets.

• Recombinant DNA technology
• Expression of recombinant proteins
• Purification of proteins
• Electrophoresis
• Spectroscopic techniques
• Enzyme kinetics at the steady-state
• Immunochemical techniques
• Blotting
• DNA sequencing
• Introduction to proteomics


The teaching material includes all the slides shown in class and will be made available on a weekly basis on the Elly platform.

Reference books:
- Biochimica e Biologia Molecolare - Principi e tecniche. A cura di Keith Wilson e John Walker. Raffaello Cortina Editore.
- Metodologie Biochimiche. A cura di Carmela Bonaccorsi di Patti, Roberto Contestabile e Martino Luigi di Salvo. Casa Editirce Ambrosiana.
- “Stryer – Biochimica”. A cura di Berg, Tymoczko. Zanichelli editore

Teaching methods

The teaching activities will be carried out in the form of in-person lectures, with short classroom exercises aimed at the student's self-assessment. Alternative online lectures will depend on decision from the Univeristy. Each frontal lesson will be preceded by a brief summary of the topics covered in the previous lessons. For part I (drug targets), students will be offered, on a voluntary basis, the opportunity to read and subsequently discuss with the teacher a review paper on a topic of their choice. For part II (biochemical methodologies), the teacher, when possible, will bring to the classroom and explain small instruments and devices. Before the exam, the students will be given the opportunity, in small groups, to visit the Biochemistry laboratories.

Assessment methods and criteria

The achievements of the student will be assessed in an oral exam in the dates established in the official exam schedule. Registration is compulsory. Three questions will be asked. At least one question will focus on Part I (Drug targets); at least one question will focus on Part II (Biochemical methodologies). The purpose of the exam is to ascertain the knowledge and understanding of the topics illustrated in the lectures and test the capability to represent and discuss chemical structures, schemes and plots. The scoring, on a scale 18-30, will take into account the level of analysis, the ability to critically apply the knowledge, the appropriateness of the scientific language and the autonomy in the discussion. A lower passing grade (18-23 / 30) corresponds to a basic knowledge of the main contents, even if the answer is not given in full autonomy. Higher scores (26-27 / 30) will require more detailed knowledge, good scientific vocabulary and partial autonomy in the discussion. The highest scores (28-30 / 30) are awarded for an excellent level of knowledge and communication skills. The “lode” is awarded if the maximum score for all questions is reached and the discussion is led by the student in full autonomy and\or the student is able to solve simple problems. If the candidate is completely unable to answer - even in its basic points - to all questions on either part I or part II, the exam will be considered insufficient. Students diagnosed with specific learning disorders (DSA), certified in accordance with law No. 170/2010, will be able to take the exams in the forms required by law.

Other information

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