Young UKZN Health Scientist Presents Research at High Level Meeting
UKZN student, Ms Olayide Arodola, ended 2014 on a high note when she presented her award-winning Masters research at a meeting of the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) at the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga.
Supervised by the new Dean of Health Sciences, Professor Mahmoud Soliman, who heads UKZN’s Molecular Modeling and Drug Design Laboratory, Arodola’s study was titled: “Could the FDA-Approved Anti-HIV PR Inhibitors be Promising Anticancer Agents? An Answer from Enhanced Docking and Molecular Dynamics Analyses”.
Researchers have noted the anticancer activity of Nelfinavir – an FDA-approved HIV-1 protease inhibitor – based on experimental data from a previous report. However, Nelfinavir’s mechanism of action has yet to be verified and this led to Arodola’s study as a first account of investigating the anti-cancer activity of all currently FDA-approved HIV PR inhibitors using cutting-edge molecular modelling and drug design approaches at Soliman’s laboratory.
Results from the study showed that Nelfinavir had better binding affinity when compared to other protease inhibitors and this was in a great accordance with the experimental data.
‘Indinavir, saquinavir and ritonavir have close binding affinity to nelfinavir (?G = -9.0, -8.6 and -8.5 kcal/mol, respectively),’ Arodola explained.
It is believed that the research will provide a platform towards the design and optimisation of dual anti-HIV/anti-cancer drugs.
‘Information gained from this study should also provide a route map towards the design, optimisation and further experimental investigation of potential derivatives of HIV PIs to treat cancer,’ said Arodola.
Arodola said she presented at the CHPC National Meeting in order to receive feedback and ideas from senior researchers who had achieved academic qualifications in the same field.
‘Prior to the Conference, I had won the CHPC user satisfaction survey which was posted online on the CHPC website (http://www.chpc.ac.za/index.php/news2/186-winner-chpc-user-satisfaction-survey. When my name was called up, it was almost like everyone knew who I was. Other students and delegates wanted to know which university I came from.’
‘The Director of CHPC/CSIR (Dr Happy Sithole) asked who my supervisor was. I told him Professor Soliman from UKZN and his comment to the audience was: “I am not surprised Soliman is your supervisor, I know him well and I will expect him to graduate such an excellent student”.’
Professor Mahmoud Soliman’s laboratory covers a wide range of computational and molecular modeling research areas with the main focus on biological systems and drug design approaches (http://soliman.ukzn.ac.za).
Arodola said: ‘Besides publication in an international journal, the study will be expanding to include experimental investigations with international collaborators.’
Originally from Nigeria and passionate about acquiring more knowledge in her field, Arodola, graduated with a Master of Medical Science (Pharmaceutical Chemistry) degree in 2014.
She has published papers in peer-reviewed journals during her undergraduate and postgraduate studies and aspires towards completing her PhD which will lead her to excel and generate new knowledge in research-based organisations within the Pharmacy sector.