cod. 06034

Academic year 2021/22
1° year of course - First semester
Carlotta COMPARI
Academic discipline
Chimica fisica (CHIM/02)
Discipline di base applicate alle biotecnologie
Type of training activity
42 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Integrated course unit module: INTERACTION DRUG-BIOMOLECULES

Learning objectives

The aim of the course is to provide the students, by means of models peculiar of physical chemistry, with the thermodynamic concepts for knowledge and understanding of the energy interconversion in biological systems, the interaction of ligands with biological macromolecules and biological transport phenomena. Colloid chemistry, foundation of health products will be presented. The chemical-physical bases and methodologies for studying, designing and developing non-viral vectors will be presented., with particular emphasis on new cationic surfactants as possible mediators for gene delivery.
At the end of the course the student will have assimilated the main themes of Biologica Physical Chemistry demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the chemical-physical methods for the study of biological systems. The student will be able to identify and apply the appropriate model to each system and to calculate the thermodynamic parameters of the phenomenon observed.
At the end of the course, the student will have to demonstrate that he has assimilated the following topics:
- Principles of thermodynamics
- Relationships between thermodynamic quantities
- Chemical physical methods appropriate for the study of biopolymers
- Solution equilibria
- Membrane processes.
- Transport phenomena
- Colloidal systems
- non-viral vectors



Course unit content

-Thermodynamics and Biochemistry.
- Changes of state: physical transformations of pure substances.
- Macromolecules in solution.
- Chemical equilibria involving macromolecules.
-Bioenergetics. - Intermolecular forces.
- Colloid Chemistry. - Non-viral vectors for gene therapy.

Full programme

-Thermodynamics and Biochemistry: heat, work and energy. First law of thermodynamics. Molecular interpretation of thermodynamic quantities. Entropy, free energy and equilibrium. Second law of thermodynamics. Experimental Thermochemistry. Calorimetry. An outline of Statistical Thermodynamics.

- Changes of state: physical transformations of pure substances. Phase diagrams. Gibbs phase rule.

- Macromolecules in solution: thermodynamics and equilibria. Partial molar quantities, the chemical potential, ideal and non-ideal solutions. Application of the chemical potential to membrane equilibria: membrane equilibria, dialysis equilibrium, osmotic pressure, membrane potential.

- Chemical equilibria involving macromolecules: chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics of chemical reactions in solution. Interaction between macromolecules, binding equilibria, binding curves, cooperativity.

- Bioenergetics: molecules through membranes: transport modes, endoergonic and exoergonic reaction, coupled reactions.

- Intermolecular forces: van der Waals forces, hydrogen bond, hydrophobic interactions.

- Colloid Chemistry: definition and classification, surface tension, DLVO theory, structure and classification of surfactants, micelle and liposome.

- Non-viral vectors for gene therapy: non-viral methods for gene transfection. New non-viral vectors for gene therapy: cationic surfactants


- K.E. Van Holde, W. C. Johnson, P.S. Ho Principles of Physical Biochemistry, Pearson Prentice Hall
- P. Atkins, J. De Paula, Chimica Fisica Biologica 1, Zanichelli, Bologna
- P. Atkins, J. De Paula, Elememti di Chimica Fisica, Zanichelli, Bologna
- P. Atkins, J. De Paula, Chimica Fisica, Zanichelli, Bologna.
- David G. Nicholls Bioenergetics Academic press, inc.
- Scientific reviews on specific topics

Teaching methods

The course will be held through lectures to Students either in the classroom (“in presenza”) or in synchronous-streaming (“in telepresenza”) on the Teams platform. Therefore, the opportunity of Student/Teacher interaction will be preserved both face to face and remotely, by the simultaneous use of the Teams platform.
Lectures will be supported by slide presentations, which will be available to students on the Elly platform (

During the oral lesson will present the basic concepts of physical chemistry with particular emphasis on biological applications is also planned a visit to the laboratories of Physical Chemistry of the Department of Pharmacy in order to show students the techniques that have been discussed.

Assessment methods and criteria

The oral examination will have to be passed, during normal examination sessions of module of pharmaceutical biochemistry.

Oral questions will have the purpose of establishing the level of knowledge and understanding of the course content, in relation to the educational goals.
If the results of the test will be positive (18/30), the final mark of drug-biomolecules interaction examination will be the mean of the mark of the two modules.

In case of the persistence of the health emergency, the exams will be conducted remotely, as follows:
remote oral questions, through the Teams platform (guide
Students with SLD / BSE must first contact Le Eli-che: support for students with disabilities, D.S.A., B.E.S. (

Other information

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