Thesis of Masters in Pharmacy Summa Cum Laude Graduate Published in Top-Ranked Journal
The thesis of summa cum laude Masters in Pharmacy graduate Mr Calvin Andeve Omolo of the College of Health Sciences has been published in the top-ranked international journal: European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics 112 (2017), 96–108.
The dissertation was titled: “Synthesis of Oleic acid conjugated Polyethylene Glycol and its Application as an Amphiphilic Polymer for Nano Delivery of Vancomycin”.
‘This is my first summa cum laude degree and it would not have been possible without the support, expert guidance and mentorship from my supervisor Professor Thirumala Govender, my postdoc guides Dr Raul Kalhapure and Dr Chunderika Mocktar and the whole team in our Drug Delivery Group,’ said Omolo.
Omolo got interested in Chemistry in high school and also wanted to play a role in improving the health of his community.
Omolo said he was motivated by a desire to address the current crisis of anti-bacterial resistance. ‘The current dosage forms of antibiotics such as tablets and capsules contribute significantly to the development of resistance. Bacteria will develop resistance even to new drugs being developed if they are administered to patients in these conventional dosage forms,’ said Omolo.
The study synthesised novel material and used nanotechnology to prepare a novel nano delivery system for vancomycin. Nanotechnology can be used to deliver new drugs discovered.
This delivery system was able to target the infection site increasing the antibiotic concentration at the site of bacteria localisation, prolong drug release to achieve sustained activity, and protect healthy sites in the body from drug exposure. ‘In this way, nano systems such as polymersomes can improve the activity of the drug, prolong activity, decrease side effects, decrease frequency of administration, and improve patient compliance,’ said Omolo.
The aim of this study was to synthesize, formulate and evaluate novel vancomycin loaded bio-safe mPEG-OA polymersomes to enhance antibiotic therapy. Omolo and his team were able to use this material to prepare polymersomes with sizes below 150 nm, appropriate surface charge and morphology.
High entrapment of vancomycin, and sustained drug release profiles and cytotoxicity studies showed it was safe to be used on humans.
In addition to in vitro antibacterial studies, the research also tested novel formulation in mice using a skin infection model. This animal study revealed that treatment with vancomycin-loaded polymersomes significantly reduced the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus burden up to 183 and 25 fold when compared with non-treated animals and animals treated with vancomycin alone. In summary, they developed vancomycin-loaded polymersomes from the novel mPEG-OA polymer and were found to be a promising nanoantibiotic against both sensitive and resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Omolo said he found it difficult to get used to the concepts and struggled to apply them successfully and meet the project’s deadline. ‘However, I had a strong desire to persevere and complete my degree despite the challenges knowing in the end it would be worth it. In addition, the support I received from my supervisor and the whole team including Dr Chunderika Mocktar and staff in Pharmacy was enormous,’ said Omolo.
He is currently reading for his PhD in Pharmaceutics with Professor Thirumala Govender as his supervisor. ‘I want to continue with research in academia and the pharmaceutical industry. After 10 years, I see myself working with several patents, innovative cost effective novel pharmaceutical materials and new medicine solutions to overcome health challenges we are facing globally.’