The School consists of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacognosy, Pharmacology and Practice of Pharmacy. Outside the University, the School has research links with numerous other Universities, Institutions and the Pharmaceutical Industry.
Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology
In addition to a large undergraduate teaching laboratory and model pharmacy dispensary, the division has a purpose built unit operations facility for pharmaceutical technology and an aseptic suite for sterile product production, TPN and cytotoxic drug preparation. There are specific research laboratories for formulation science, biopharmaceutics, cell culture, thermal analysis and micromeritics. The division provides courses on formulation science, dosage form design, pharmaceutical technology, pharmaceutical microbiology and biopharmaceutics. Research is directed primarily at the design of drug delivery systems in order to improve the transport of drugs to target sites in the body, with the consequent enhancement in therapeutic effectiveness and reduction in side effects. This necessitates both basic and applied research. The division’s research interests may be summarised as follows:
Prediction of drug release from solid dosage forms for human and veterinary use
Mechanisms of drug transport across biological membranes including the gastrointestinal tract; biological barriers to peptide absorption
Transdermal drug delivery mechanisms of drug transport; local and systemic delivery
Technological aspects of drug delivery system design/sustained release technology based on microencapsulation, tablet, implant, transdermal systems and bioadhesive products; aerosol systems
The area is fully equipped with a number of laboratories for specialised purposes e.g. drug synthesis, chromatography and spectroscopy. Equipment for postgraduate teaching and research includes the following spectroscopic and chromatographic instrumentation: IR, UV, N.M.R., Fluorescence, G.C., M.P.L.C., H.P.L.C., Ion Chromatography, Atomic Absorption, Capillary Electrophoresis, GC-MS. Access to other facilities i.e. High Resolution Mass Spectrometry, N.M.R., (400MHz) and X-Ray is available in the University and collaborating institutions.
The area is engaged in research in the following areas: analysis of pharmaceutical materials; impurity profiling of pharmaceuticals e.g. cardiovasculars; design of stability studies for product registration; drug design and development; methodologies for the synthesis, characterisation and chemical transformations of pharmacologically active compounds. Specific research interests include; design, synthesis, evaluation and computer modelling of novel antiestrogens; activity profiling of amphetamine type drugs of abuse; mechanism of action of anti-inflammatory drugs; computer modelling of platelet activating agents; liquid chromatographic method development for cardiovascular drugs; the application of molecular orbital studies to the conformations of muscarinic agonists.
The major research orientations of the division are in the phytochemical and biological evaluation of medicinal plants. Both native (Taxus, Drosera, Ajuga, Centranthus) and foreign plants (Papaver, Dionaea, Leontopodium) are being examined as potential sources of novel bio-active compounds, especially with anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antimalarial and anti-acetylcholine esterase activities. Compounds of research interest include alkaloids, flavanoids, peptides, terpenes and naphthoquinones. In its drug discovery programmes, the area is also involved in the chemical modification and bioactivity evaluation of these compounds. Biotechnological areas of study include cell suspension and transformed root cultures. Collaboration with Botany allows the molecular investigation (i.e. DNA profiling) of medicinal plants. Method validation and quality control procedures for herbal medicines as well as natural and synthetic drugs of abuse are also of interest. Practice related areas of research involve aspects dealing with the pharmaceutical care of drug addicts.
The area is fully equipped for the cultivation of plant cell cultures as well as intact and micro-propagated plants. It is equipped with up-to-date extraction and solvent handling facilities as well as a wide range of chromatographic equipment including GC, GC-MS, HPLC, and MPLC. Standard spectroscopic techniques are available within the area and University (3002 400MHz NMR) or in collaborating institutions (400 MHz NMR and High Resolution Mass Spectrometry).
There are two active research groups. The Neuropharmacology Research Group is concerned with the functional role of serotonin and polyamines in the central nervous system and with the development of novel antidepressants and polyamine antagonists.
The Immunomodulator Research Group, is commercially sponsored and is concerned with the development of novel immunosuppressants from lead molecules of fungal origin. Approximately 200 NCE’s have been synthesised by this group and promising novel agents, with potential role in the treatment of diseases of autoimmune origin, have been identified.
There are close associations with the Centre for the Practice of Pharmacy. The division is particularly well equipped to carry out studies on centrally acting drugs and on the novel entities devised by the immunomodulator group. It has a wide range of pharmacological recording equipment for measurement of blood pressure, ECG, EEG and smooth muscle contraction, electrophysiological patch clamp recording equipment and modern automated high pressure liquid chromatography systems.
Practice Of Pharmacy
Access to support in data processing and statistical analysis is available in the division and in the College; tools such as SPSS and other software packages are available.
Postgraduate research in the areas of pharmaceutical care, drug utilization and compliance/concordance, health promotion, medication safety and health policy is ongoing. Collaborative projects relating to the pharmaceutical care of the elderly and to medication review have been carried out. Research has been carried out in collaboration with health service institutions such as health boards and Trinity teaching hospitals and these links are continually being developed.