Pharmacologists as teachers are committed to guiding students and encouraging them to act responsibly before selecting a treatment and handling and administration of a drug. This work, therefore, goes beyond simply sharing knowledge.
We are obliged to constantly continue our educations to stay up-to-date, following biomedical progress and the treatment dynamic itself. In other words, we must follow the different “life stages” of each drug, which go from the time they are hypothesized, formulated, and designed in a laboratory, tested in clinical and pre-clinical trials, authorized for sale and continue with notifications on side effects, modifications to their indications, and even withdrawal from the market.
It is important to note that, as teachers, we must awaken students’ (future healthcare professionals) capacity for critical thinking so that they develop the skills that will allow them to read, understand, and critique a study, as well as extract their own conclusions. We have the mission and the responsibility to make students the real protagonists of their learning, including them and instilling in them a spirit of research. Only this way will they truly participate in the necessary and unstoppable advances of biomedicine; in the face of incessant pharmacological innovation, knowing about it is not enough, they have to participate in it. This is also going to increase the number of professional opportunities they have and contribute to heightening their career prospects.
Research and Pharmacology
In my view, the current landscape of pharmacological research leads to the creation of more multi-disciplinary working groups comprised of basic and clinical researchers in order to carry out transitional projects. These studies must be able to connect and integrate basic research with clinical research, which will provide a broader view of pharmacology as it establishes scientific collaborations between groups.
Combining both “worlds,” i.e., the lab with medical practice and patients, is a great challenge, and also a key point to facilitating the transition of basic research in real clinical and functional applications. Thus, the questions can be asked properly in the lab so as to respond to the patient’s needs.
That is how basic pharmacology labs create and design pharmaceuticals to expand to new therapeutic targets and diagnostic and preventive techniques, using human cell cultures, human samples, and animal models. With these results, new starting points are set representing the prelude to clinical trials, and they can subsequently become part of patient treatment. Then the cycle starts up again and in the mean time it feeds basic pharmacology studies with new questions.
The commitment to innovation is the key to the future; it is what allows us to progress and is essential to increasing and reinforcing the understanding of pharmaceuticals already on the market, discovering other mechanisms of action, new applications, perfecting treatment strategies, and more accurately finding side effects related to the specific characteristics of certain patients.
Broadening the understanding of pharmaceuticals, as a result, allows us to find the most appropriate treatment according to the specific needs of each patient and achieve a better success rate. In fact, despite the fact that it is currently quite challenging, in the future, pharmacology will move in the direction of designing customized treatments. This entails and guarantees better acceptance of the treatment from patients as well as better results.
I am currently working on several research projects related to vascular function and atherosclerosis. One of the studies that we published recently focuses on the role of NOD1 as a new pharmacological target in arterial pathologies. Specifically, we are studying atherosclerosis, which is a chronic cardiovascular condition characterized by strong arterial inflammation accompanied by lipids in the arteries, which generate a disruption in the structure and function thereof, affect blood flow, and trigger the formation of atheromatous plaque. The detachment of mature atheromatous plaque leads to heart attack. Previous studies showed that cells contain specific structures called PRR. These cellular structures are heavily involved in the initiation and development of this cardiovascular condition. In this project we focused on analyzing the role of NOD1, which is a molecular structure able to interrelate with PRR and is present in other circulatory system diseases.
Therefore, we created an animal model of this disease in genetically modified mice that did not have the NOD1 molecule. The results showed that NOD1 predisposes mice to start forming atheromatous plaque. At the same time, the in vitro results showed that NOD1 directly affected the proper functioning of vascular cells and the immune system in its interaction of the initial stages of the formation of cardiovascular lesions. In light of all this, we concluded that NOD1 significantly contributes to the start of early atherosclerosis, and therefore defined NOD1 as an innovative therapeutic target and a molecule with potential prognostic value for this and other cardiovascular diseases. Pharmacological research is ALIVE and that’s why, as a professor, I’m filled with excitement and passion to provide even more dynamic, high-quality scientific teaching on everything related to the world of pharmaceuticals.