Fundamental principles of pharmacology and autonomic pharmacology are taught in the second year of the curriculum; groups of drugs are covered during the third and fourth years in conjunction with structure-function relationships and the pathophysiology of disease according to organ systems. The department also participates in teaching clinical pharmacology and therapeutics during the clinical clerkships.
In conjunction with the Ministry of Health the department has taken a major role to support the health care system in the UAE by developing a National Formulary, establishing a drug information service, and improving clinical pharmacy practice.
Research in Pharmacology takes place on one floor of the Research Wing of the Faculty; this floor is also shared by researchers in Anatomy and Physiology. Research in the Molecular Sciences, Immunology and Microbiology , or in Clinical Science takes place on adjacent floors of this well equipped modern building, and interdisciplinary activity is enhanced by the use of this contiguous space. Research is financed partly through the department, partly via grants obtained through the Faculty Research Committee, and to a lesser extend by external funding. Interdisciplinary research is encouraged, and this is supported by a dedicated group of well qualified technicians.
Neurochemical Changes in Diabetic Neuropathy (Professor Morrison): Changes in neurotransmitter levels and neurotransmission are being studied during the course of diabetic and autonomic neuropathy. In particular, the role of peptides and purines in sensory nerves is of interest, as a means of explaining some of the pathophysiological events in these conditions, and as possible therapeutic targets. In this regard, antagonists of vanilloid receptors are of particular interest.
Pharmacology and Physiology of the Urinary Bladder, Colon and Visceral Reflexes (Professor Morrison): The diabetic bladder and colon are hypertrophied, and in the human there may also be atonia. This project seeks to investigate the changes in sensitivity of these smooth muscles to neurotransmitters and nerve stimulation during hypertrophic changes induced by streptozotocin.
Gastrointestinal Pharmacology (Dr Bastaki): Protection of gastrointestinal mucosa, nutrient absorption and anti ulcer drugs, in collaboration with the Departments of Anatomy and Surgery. Regional differences in sodium dependent solute transport, the resistance of intestinal mucosa to auto digestion, and responses to growth factors such as EGF are being studied. New drugs, including the second generation of proton pump inhibitors, are also being investigated.
Clinical Toxicology and Neurpharmacology (Dr Hasan): Monitoring the incidence of poisoning in the UAE. Comparing Lead levels in rural and urban communities, and investigating the effects of heavy metals on the nervous system.
Pharmaco-epidemiology (Dr Hasan): Developing quality of life instruments for chronic illnesses. Investigations on the safe use of analgesics. Evaluation of pharmaco-therapy of congestive heart failure.
Novel Selective Ligands for Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptors (Professor A. Adem): Five muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes (M1- M5) have been cloned and are found in the brain. However, the pharmacological identification of the subtypes responsible for the various central effects of the muscarinic drugs is difficult due to the lack of highly selective muscarinic agonists and antagonists. We have isolated muscarinic M1 and M4 receptor subtype selective toxins from mamba snake (Dendroaspis) venoms. At present isolation and characterization of M2, M3, and M5 selective toxins is in progress.
Mechanisms of Neuronal Cell Death (Professor A. Adem): The hippocampus is among the structures most vulnerable to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Several reports showed destruction of neurons in the hippocampus of Alzheimer (AD) patients. So far, there has been no successful animal model where the hippocampus could be non-invasively and selectively lesioned. We have shown that long-term adrenalectomy (ADX) causes selective loss of hippocampal neurons. In this project the mechanism(s) of neuronal cell death will be investigated.