Exploring the key elements of pharmacology

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Written By Berry Mathew

Pharmacology is the study of how medicines work inside human bodies how our bodies respond to them and the changes that happen over time within the body. Non-clinical pharmacological case studies let scientists compare one medicine’s positive effects along with its negative effects. This comparison is very important as it allows for thorough benefit-risk analysis before the medicine is proceeded to be tested on humans through clinical studies. If a medicine proceeds to the clinical phase, the data gathered through toxicology and non-clinical pharmacology help to determine the right dosage as medicines are distributed to the volunteers in the first clinical study. 

Pharmacology is classified into two areas – pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. 

If you are planning to pursue an MSc pharmacology, read this article to learn what are the main elements of pharmacology. 

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  • Pharmacokinetics

Pharmacokinetics or PK refers to the study of a medicine’s effect on the body. The acronym associated with pharmacokinetics in textbooks is ADME, where A stands for absorption (studies how the medicine gets inside the body), D for distribution (where the medicine works in the body), M for metabolism (how the body modifies the medicine chemically), and E for excretion (how the medicine is eliminated from the body). 

Data collected through pharmacokinetics studies offer detailed information about what happens to medicine once it’s inside the human body, over a period of time. Scientific and mathematical data based on such information helps to understand the journey of medicine and its metabolites through the body. This offers scientists a chance to assess the relationship between a medicine’s good and toxic effects, and also predict the safety of it for humans. Data gathered through pharmacokinetic studies are highly crucial for the determination of dosage in medical trials. 

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  • Pharmacodynamics

Pharmacodynamics, PD, is the study of a medicine’s effect on the human body. There are two ways through which medicine can affect the human body –

  • By altering the conditions inside the body
  • By interacting with specific body parts at a sub-cellular or cellular level. 

One of the primary objectives of pharmacodynamics is gathering information on how a medicine affects the human body, like which receptors it activates. This information helps scientists to understand and assess the efficiency of a drug, whether it’s having the desired effect or not. If it shows signs of efficiency, it studies how strong that effect is. It also helps to achieve a better understanding of the relationship of the medicine’s effects on the body and its strength. Pharmacodynamic studies are important for the safety assessment of drugs. They identify the undesirable effects a medicine might have and investigate a range of doses and their desired effects on the body. 

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