Pharmacology is a branch of biology which focuses on drug action. A drug is defined as a man-made, natural or endogenous molecule which has effects on cells, tissues, organs or organisms.
Pharmacology considers drug composition and properties, molecular and cellular mechanisms, signal transduction communication, molecular diagnostics, toxicology, chemical biology, therapy and antipathogenic capabilities.
Two main areas of pharmacology are pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. Pharmacodynamics focuses on the effects a drug has on the biological systems. Instead, pharmacokinetics concentrates on the effects that the biological system has on a drug.
It is important also to highlight that pharmacology is not a synonym for pharmacy, as the two are quite often confused. Pharmacology is a biomedical science which deals with the research and characterisation of chemicals have effects on organisms. On the contrary, pharmacy is a health service profession which focuses on the application of the principles learned from pharmacology.
The origins of pharmacology date back to the Middle Ages. However, pharmacology as a scientific discipline developed in the mid-19th century.
Discoveries in this field happened in the second half of the 19th century as specifications of morphine, quinine and digitalis have been provided.
Finally, the discipline can be divided into sub-disciplines including clinical pharmacology, psychopharmacology, neuropharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, pharmacogenomics, pharmacogenetics, pharmacoepidemiology, safety pharmacology, systems pharmacology, toxicology, posology, theoretical pharmacology, pharmacognosy, experimental pharmacology and dental pharmacology.
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