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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsG'Day. To help you understand some concepts you'll see in the coming weeks, I'd like to present you with a basic introduction to chemistry. For some of you, this'll be a chemistry refresher. But for those of you who don't have a strong background in chemistry, the article that follows has some useful material to help you out. I'll start by introducing you to some chemical elements. Then, build up to simple chemical structures. And finally, you'll look at how these chemical structures, the medicines, interact with proteins in the body. You can think of this interaction like a key fitting a lock. Turning the right shaped key in a lock will open a door.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsFor a body, taking a drug that has the right shape for a particular protein can help us treat diseases. For each medicine you cover, I will explain the underlying chemistry concepts, keeping it as simple as possible. The stories in this course will cover the historic development of several drugs, showing how medicinal chemistry has overcome problems with potency and side effects. We can think of these developments in an evolutionary sense, where we end up with useful medicines. You may feel that the chemistry is challenging, but I encourage you to persist and always keep in mind that simple concept of a key fitting a lock. We'll be using movies of molecular models to help you understand how these drugs work.

Skip to 1 minute and 43 secondsSo please, bear with me, and I'll lead you by the hand through some fascinating stories. Let's start with what we are likely to encounter in the weeks ahead. We'll show you flat, two dimensional chemical structures, like the one shown here. But what is it that we are actually looking at? Let's break this task into smaller pieces. First of all, we have letters, which represent atoms, such as N for nitrogen, S for sulphur, and O for oxygen. For carbon atoms, we can either indicate these by a letter, or they are placed at the intersection of two or more lines. As well as this, there are numbers, such as three, where three indicates three hydrogen atoms.

Skip to 2 minutes and 34 secondsIn general, we don't put all the hydrogen atoms on the structure, but we assume they are there. The lines are bonds between atoms and, in some cases, we have two lines. And they can arrange into variously sized rings. At first glance, this may be daunting. But we'll take you through this slowly. Let's start with the chemical elements. Drugs comprise a limited number of chemical elements, as they are primarily organic in nature, meaning they usually contain carbon atoms. The common elements we see are listed in the word CHONPS. Although we won't specifically encounter phosphorus in these chemistry modules, phosphorus is, however, vital, as it's part of the backbone of our DNA.

Skip to 3 minutes and 24 secondsOther elements we will encounter include the halogens, chlorine, and fluorine.

Skip to 3 minutes and 34 secondsWe can imagine this system to being like an alphabet. With letters, we can use these to form words.

Skip to 3 minutes and 42 secondsWith associated grammar and spelling rules, and the same goes for molecules-- we can't just throw together any old atoms.

Skip to 3 minutes and 57 secondsThere are chemistry rules to follow.

Skip to 4 minutes and 6 secondsThe words, in this sense, are molecules.

Skip to 4 minutes and 12 secondsSo let's make some chemical structures. We'll start with butane, the gas that's often used to run our barbecues. The molecular formula tells me there are four carbons and ten hydrogens. The structure can be written out as a chain of carbon atoms with their associated hydrogens. Having the hydrogen atoms and labelling the carbons can clutter things. So we can also represent butane using a simpler structure, just a set of three lines. The last molecule here is ethanol. And this comprises two carbon atoms and an oxygen atom. The oxygen makes a single bond both to a carbon atom and to a hydrogen.

Skip to 4 minutes and 58 secondsAnd all up, ethanol has two carbons, an oxygen, and the molecular formula tells us that it has six hydrogen atoms overall.

Skip to 5 minutes and 11 secondsChemical bonds represent electrons shared between atoms that strongly tie them together. For this course, we will limit the discussion to that of single bonds, double bonds, as well as aromatic bonds. A good example of a molecule comprising single bonds is ethylene glycol, a substance often used as antifreeze in cars.

Skip to 5 minutes and 39 secondsHere, we have two carbon atoms, each of which is attached to an oxygen atom via a single bond. And the single bonds are simply shown as a single line. Our second molecule is propene, and is also known as propylene. It is used in the manufacture of plastics, such as polypropylene. The two carbon atoms on the right hand side share a double bond. And to represent this, we see two parallel lines.

Skip to 6 minutes and 15 secondsThe next type of bond we will discuss is an aromatic bond. Shown here is benzene.

Skip to 6 minutes and 23 secondsWe see a ring structure with three double bonds and three single bonds. We could, of course, draw this by moving the bonds around the ring. In reality, the bonds in the ring are shared, and we can represent an aromatic ring with a dotted line or even a circle. And what we didn't show you was that benzene also has six hydrogen atoms, one attached to each carbon.

Skip to 6 minutes and 52 secondsOther rings are also shown here, many of which we will encounter in this course.

Skip to 7 minutes and 3 secondsIn the article that follows, we've given you a website showing the molecules mentioned so far, which has interactive models that you can play with. There are other good links in there to help you with the chemistry before moving on to the next video.

Introduction: chemistry part 1

Watch David (the chemistry educator for this course) discuss some of the basic chemistry that will be used throughout the course.

As you make your way through the course, you may like to return to this video and replay particular sections to review David’s presentation on chemistry concepts.


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This video is from the free online course:

The Science of Medicines

Monash University

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Introduction: the healthcare team
    Introduction: the healthcare team
    video

    Watch Kirstie and Lyn describe health care teams and how doctors and pharmacists work together. Kirstie also provides a brief overview of the course.

  • Diabetes: patient introduction
    Diabetes: patient introduction
    video

    Watch Kirstie introduce Shirley Park, a mildly overweight patient with Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately for Shirley, diet and exercise have not helped.

  •  Heart disease: patient introduction
    Heart disease: patient introduction
    video

    Watch Kirstie introduce Steve Park, an overweight 49-year-old with reflux and high blood pressure.

  • Pain patient introduction
    Pain patient introduction
    video

    Watch Kirstie introduces Ari, a gentleman with chronic back pain on multiple medications, including morphine tablets.

  • Smoking: patient introduction
    Smoking: patient introduction
    video

    Watch Kirstie introduce Tracey Wilson, a 28 years of age smoker who wants to quit.

  • Depression: patient introduction
    Depression: patient introduction
    video

    Watch Kirstie introduce Maria Tarantino, a 32 years of age mother of three, including a young baby who is suffering from a depressive disorder.

  • Depression pharmaceutics
    Depression pharmaceutics
    video

    Watch Ian combine medicine design and pharmaceutics to demonstrate how often fluoxetine needs to be taken.