SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3C126332
Module Leader Annette Graham
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

SCQF 8 in Biological Sciences or similar subject

Summary of Content

This module covers aspects of signal transduction, cell cycle and apoptosis, protein trafficking and secretion, and host-pathogen interactions. The basic mechanisms of the key processes will be examined, and contextualised by exploration of how these pathways are exploited therapeutically in a clinical setting using strategies such as small molecule inhibitors and biologics.


Signal transduction pathways and therapeutics The general principles of signal transduction will be reviewed, including receptor-mediated events, localisation of receptors, and receptor down-regulation. The role of second messengers, interactions and regulation of cell signalling pathways, termination of signalling responses and regulation of gene expression will be addressed. Consideration will then be given to how these events can be manipulated therapeutically, to alter cellular and tissue responses, using reagents such as small molecule inhibitors or biologics, to treat disease conditions. Examples of specific pathways include TNF-alpha mediated signalling, in the context of rheumatoid arthritis, and the efficacy of biological (monoclonal antibody) interventions in clinical trials. Host-pathogen interactions will be considered, including the toxins produced by principal toxigenic bacteria, endotoxin structure, and Toll-like receptor 4 signalling, together with potential therapeutics for treatment of inflammation and sepsis. Where appropriate, use will be made of findings from genetic disorders causing disease, or genetic deletion experiments in murine models. Cell cycle and apoptosis These pathways will be examined in outline, with focused examples of how these mechanisms have informed current cancer chemotherapies, including small molecule inhibitors, immunocytokines, unconjugated and conjugated antibody therapies. Protein trafficking and secretion An overview of protein targeting signals will be provided, covering nuclear, mitochondrial, lysosomal and Golgi trafficking, and KDEL retention of proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum, combined with consideration of molecular mechanisms of vesicular trafficking and key stages of the secretory pathway. The material will be supported by an exemplar examining the impact of defects in vesicular trafficking, which the students will solve in a problem-based tutorial. Anti-microbial therapies This lecture series will complement those within the signal transduction pathway examining host-pathogen interactions, examining anti-microbial agents and chemotherapies used against bacterial and fungal pathogens. The use and misuse of antimicrobial agents, resistance to these molecules, and (genetic) mechanisms leading to resistance will be considered, together with newer classes of antimicrobial drugs in the development pipeline.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Explain key cellular pathways which are important targets for drug discovery.2. Recognise the relationship between basic scientific discoveries and their transition from 'bench to bedside' in differing disease contexts.3. Understand differing approaches to therapeutic interventions which have been utilised successfully in clinical settings.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module divides into four key areas (cell signalling, cell cycle and apoptosis, protein trafficking and secretion, and anti-microbial strategies) which are thematically linked by consideration of key cellular responses and their therapeutic exploitation using strategies such as small molecule inhibitors or biologics. Lectures will the primary mode of delivery of new material, while tutorials will challenge students to evaluate their knowledge base, using a problem-solving approach to real-life scientific and medical problems. Online discussions will be enabled via GCU Learn, allowing students to ask individual questions, facilitating personalised learning. Students will work collaboratively in groups to develop a 'Wiki' webpage, which will also be peer assessed individually by students; this will facilitate divergent thinking, broader and deeper learning, and scope to develop critical skills.

Indicative Reading

Appropriate review articles will be provided in key areas, supplemented by reading of the following texts: 1. Molecular Biology of the Cell (Sixth Ed) Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Morgan D, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P 2. Molecular Cell Biology (Eighth Ed) Lodish H Berk A, Kaiser CA, Krieger M, Bretscher A, , Ploegh H, Amon A, Martin KC. (2016) WH Freeman ISBN 978-1-4641-8339-3 Students may also find the associated text of use: 3. Molecular Biology of the Cell 6E - The Problem Book. Wilson J, Hunt T

Transferrable Skills

Writing and communication skills will be honed by preparation of the Wiki webpage, which will require concise, efficient and clear use of language to explain the scientific concepts therein. This coursework will also require students to research a defined area, evaluate sources and form conclusions, promoting critical thinking skills; this piece of work will be a group task, requiring students to work as team players, and promoting skills such as active listening, collaboration and cooperation. An element of collective project management will also be required for the group to meet the deadline for submission. Finally, students will assess the work of other groups, this time working individually, via the process of peer review, again aiding the development of critical assessment skills. Students will also be expected to think critically to solve real-life scientific and medical questions, in problem-solving tutorials, and to contribute actively to discussions, while assimilating basic scientific concepts explored in the lecture series.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Tutorials (FT) 9.00
Assessment (FT) 10.00
Directed Learning 9.00
Independent Learning (FT) 152.00
Lectures (FT) 20.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam 01 2.00 70.00 35% Unseen written exam
Course Work 01 n/a 30.00 35% 'Wiki' Webpage