Iranian National Graduates with a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry
An Iranian national Dr Zeynab Fakhar graduated from UKZN with a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry following a computational mechanistic and modelling study, which provided a detailed insight into the functional and structural features of important mycobaterium tuberculosis (TB) targets.
Fakhar’s thesis was titled: Understanding the Structure, Function and Dynamics of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Targets Involved in Peptidoglycan Biosynthesis Using a Computational Mechanistic and Modelling Study.
Supervised by Dr Bahareh Honarparvar, Professor Hendrik Kruger and Dr GEM Maguire, Fakhar’s work focused on applying computer-aided drug and molecular design to study the structure, function and dynamics of mycobacterium tuberculosis targets involved in peptidoglycan biosynthesis.
‘The achievements of this work would be very helpful by providing deep informative insight at the molecular level against TB disease that is infecting many people all over the world,’ she said.
Fakhar’s results also revealed a new mechanistic pathway as well as the impact of ligand binding on the flap dynamics of L,D-transpeptidase 2 enzyme.
‘According to the “tbfacts” report, the 1.1 million HIV related deaths compares with 1.4 million people dying from TB. So, TB now annually causes more deaths worldwide than HIV. This is an alarm to pay efficient and effective attention towards this latent disease,’ she said.
According to Fakhar, TB remains a main global health quandary with the most estimated TB incident cases in African regions.
‘This disease causes ailment among millions of people annually as the second infectious cause of death after the human immunodeficiency virus. Peptidoglycan as a major constituent of the bacterial cell wall is required for survival and growth for all species of bacteria including mycobacterium tuberculosis which is essential for this pathogen to cause this disease,’ she explained.
The computational pharmaceutical chemistry based study applied computer aided molecular and drug design tools and programmes in an efficient way to accelerate answering the obscurities involved in the inhibition mechanism and functional features of the promising targets of mycobacterium tuberculosis.
She expressed her gratitude to her supervisors. ‘Thank you to Dr Bahareh Honarparvar, Professor Hendrik G. Kruger and Dr GEM Maguire for believing in my abilities, supporting me, and making this journey such a great experience for me. I appreciate Professor Thavendran Govender for all his support and CPRU for sharing their research knowledge.’
She also thanked Professor Mahmoud Soliman, Dean and Head of the School of Health Science for all the support and help he provided.
‘I also appreciate Professor Ross Walker for helping and guiding me to overcome some unsolved challenges that I faced with one of my projects.’
She is currently studying as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Pretoria.
Words by: Nombuso Dlamini
Photograph by Abhi Indrarajan