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The Centre for Chemico- and Biomedicinal Research

The Centre for Chemico- and Biomedicinal Research (CCBR) is a collaborative enterprise at Rhodes that is hosted in the Department of Chemistry, but includes people from several other disciplines and institutions.  Researchers in CCBR are engaged in collaborative projects with clear medicinal emphases including:-
i) Medical Research Council (MRC)-sponsored projects on the development of novel HIV-1 protease and integrase inhibitors;
ii) MRC-SHIP projects on the development of anti-malarial compounds
iii) Model compounds for anti-tuberculosis lead development
iv) Anti-cancer compounds
v) Metal complexes for anti-malarial treatment
vi) Drug-delivery systems
These and other ongoing programmes constitute a solid basis for focussing research efforts and maximising productivity. The Centre for Chemico- and Biomedicinal Research is expected to provide an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of diseases that currently ravage sub-Saharan Africa.
The need for highly specific enzyme inhibitors is a focus common to all three of the “tropical” diseases being addressed, and it is intended that the relevant projects will each embrace multi-disciplinary investigations involving:-
i) X-ray crystallographic and/or NMR structural analysis of enzymes (if not known) and structurally modified enzymes;
ii) computer-modelling of enzymes, identification of receptor sites and computer-assisted rational drug design;
iii) total synthesis of potential inhibitors and isolation of natural products;
iv) expression of relevant enzymes;
v) elucidation of drug-receptor interactions by means of in silico docking and in vitro enzyme inhibition studies, and NMR and, where appropriate, X-ray crystallographic analyses of enzyme-inhibitor complexes;
vi) quantitative structure activity relationship (QSAR) studies to feed back into the design of more effective inhibitors.

Current cancer-research projects fall into two categories: a) the design, development and physical evaluation of phthalocyanine photosensitizers for application in photodynamic therapy – an approach well suited to the treatment of oesophageal cancer, which is prevalent in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa; and b) the isolation and characterisation of novel secondary metabolites from marine organisms and terrestrial plants. In both categories, progress will require the detailed structural analysis of potential drugs, screening for biological activity and correlation with computer-modelling and QSAR data.
The key researchers, who will be involved in this initiative, represent a spectrum of relevant disciplinary expertise, research interests, age and experience. Most of the Rhodes researchers have established track-records in the training of postgraduate students at the MSc and PhD levels, and the eight key Rhodes researchers, identified below, have published over 500 papers, successfully supervised 142 MSc and PhD projects and are currently supervising 42 MSc and PhD students. It is thus expected that, in addition to addressing urgent medicinal challenges, the Centre for Chemico- and Biomedicinal Research will build much needed capacity in the fundamental sciences critical to the proper pursuit of medicinal and medical research.

Other former projects are:
i) Medical Research Council (MRC)-sponsored projects on the development of novel HIV-1 protease and integrase inhibitors;
ii) MRC-sponsored project on the development of DOXP-reductoisomerase inhibitors as novel anti-malarial agents;
iii) an Innovation Fund Project (Sponsored by the National Department of Arts, Culture and Science; in collaboration with the CSIR) on the development of enzyme inhibitors with potential for use in the treatment of Tuberculosis ;
iv) an NRF- and National Laser Centre-sponsored project on the development of phthalocyanine sensitizers for use in Photodynamic Therapy of certain cancers.
v) an NIH- and NRF-sponsored project on the isolation and characterisation of potential anti-cancer agents from marine natural products; and
vi) NRF- and MRC-sponsored neuroscience projects.

Prof R Dorrington SARChI Chair and Biochemistry and Microbiology
Dr. A Edkins Biochemistry and Microbiology
Prof H Hoppe Biochemistry and Microbiology
Prof PT Kaye Chemistry
Dr DS Khanye Chemistry
Dr R Klein Chemistry
Dr K Lobb Chemistry
Prof RWM Krause Chemistry
Distinguished Prof T Nyokong SARChI Chair and Chemistry
Prof G Watkins Chemistry
Prof CG Whiteley Biochemistry and Microbiology

Prof I Campbell Biochemistry, Oxford University, UK
Protein NMR Spectrosopy
Dr L Collett Chemistry, University of Pretoria
Organic synthesis
Prof Y Chen Fudan University, China
Photodynamic therapy for cancer
Prof K Cook Chemistry, University of East Anglia, UK
Photodynamic therapy for cancer
Dr D Hendricks Medical Biochemistry, UCT
Osophogeal cancer screening
Prof RE Hubbard Structural Biology, York University, UK
Protein Crystallography
Prof R Ion ICECHEM, Romania
Photodynamic therapy for cancer
Prof O Kaliya Org. Intmds. and Dyes Inst., Russia
Photodynamic therapy for cancer
Prof G Blach, Autralia
Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology
Dr C. Kenyon Chem/Biotek, CSIR
Protein structure and function
Prof BG Williams, Newzealand
Porphyrin synthesis for PDT

Last Modified: Tue, 14 Jan 2020 12:41:25 SAST