Cape Town - To boost drug discovery research capacity, UCT’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) has partnered with the University of Limpopo (UL) on a project titled “TB Drug Discovery Hit to Lead Optimization”.
The project aims to contribute to finding solutions for Africa’s tuberculosis (TB) epidemic through cutting-edge research. It will expand on existing work focusing on the synthesis of novel compounds active against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb), the causative agent for TB.
UL’s Professor Winston Nxumalo has been appointed as the principal investigator on the project, while H3D, led by UCT’s Professor Kelly Chibale, will be offering support in the form of training, mentoring and access to infrastructure, including TB biology and drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics screening assays.
Aligning with the SA Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC) capacity-building agenda, the project has been named as a beneficiary of the Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) programme.
Valued at about R3 million over a period of three years, the grant will enable three postgraduate students (one PhD and two MSc) from UL to design and synthesise compounds with input from H3D’s medicinal chemists.
They will gain access to H3D’s expertise and the centre’s cutting-edge infrastructure, with the students visiting H3D for six to eight weeks at a time to receive lab-based mentorship and exposure to interdisciplinary drug discovery teams.
“This hands-on training will not only develop the students’ expertise in their own discipline, but will also expose them to all aspects of related disciplines and the complexity of integrated drug discovery projects through teamwork and attending project meetings,” noted Chibale.