Medicine Makers

Resource, Oct 24 2022


Medicine Makers is a hands-on, model-based activity which introduces participants to the basic mechanism of how painkillers work in our bodies, through an enzyme-protein interaction.

In this activity, participants create their own model of a painkiller, aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen, using pipecleaners and coloured beads. The participants then bind their painkiller to a model of the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme, but only where the coloured beads match. This binding demonstrates the specificity of drugs binding to their target, resulting in relief from inflammation and pain symptoms in the case of the COX enzyme.

Medicine Makers is well suited for ages 10-14, but can be easily adapted to different participants by bringing in more molecular detail depending on their background knowledge.

Medicine Makers was developed with the British Pharmacological Society.

Download the facilitator guide for the activity and simple factsheets to help explain how painkillers work below.

Facilitator guide

How do painkillers work factsheet

The journey of a medicine factsheet