“Unique” Pharmaceutical Chemistry Thesis Results in Doctorate for Egyptian Researcher
With a thesis said to be the first of its kind, Dr Yahya El-Sayed Jad graduated with a PhD (Pharmaceutical Chemistry) from the College of Health Sciences.
His thesis was titled: “Advanced Strategies for Peptide Synthesis and the study was supervised by Professor F. Alberico, Professor T. Govender and Professor G Kruger”.
The outputs of the study have been published in nine papers, journals of high impact and one book chapter.
Jad is currently doing post-doctoral studies at UKZN with the same research group. ‘Since I was young, I was interested in sciences and in particularly, Chemistry. I studied Chemistry and Biochemistry during my undergraduate period in Alexandria University in Egypt. Once I earned my BSc in 2009, I decided to continue with my postgraduate studies since it would help me discover new things about science and life.’
After achieving his MSc at Alexandria University, he joined UKZN as PhD student under the supervision of Professor Fernando Albericio, an international leader in peptide chemistry with research interests varying from peptide synthetic aspects to application of peptides as therapeutics and diagnostic agents. ‘I believe that my PhD training will help me achieve my goals as a scientist in drug discovery,’ said Jad.
His study can be broken up into three topics. The first is the development of a new set of coupling reagents; the second a green approach to solid phase peptide synthesis, and third the synthesis and biological evaluation of a novel antibiotic derived from teixobactin which is a recently discovered antibiotic.
The main target of his study was to develop coupling reagents that were stable, inexpensive and free of side reactions. ‘So far, one of the coupling reagents that we developed during my PhD is commercially available (Oxyma-B). Furthermore, we developed a new coupling cocktail based on other well-known coupling reagents (EDC.HCl and K-Oxyma). This new cocktail has shown a spectacular performance and it can be considered as a green cocktail based on the recently reported guidance from GlaxoSmithKline, a well-known pharmaceutical company, for environmentally friendly reagents.
‘(N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) is the most used solvent for solid-phase peptide synthesis however it is toxic and finding its replacement is essential according to many reports. We achieved total green solid-phase peptide synthesis by replacing DMF by 2-methyltetrahydrofuran (2-MeTHF) and ethyl acetate (EtOAc). 2-MeTHF is definitely an eco-friendly solvent derived from renewable resources. To the best of my knowledge biomass solvents have recently attracted more attention because of the continuous increase in the price of petroleum while they also offer a promising approach for decreasing waste disposal cost,’ said Jad.
‘With respect to teixobactin’s analogue, the development of new antimicrobial drugs has become essential and crucial due to the dramatic increase of bacterial resistance to traditional antibiotics. Our group was the first group in the world who reported on the synthesis and analogue derived from it and with a similar antibacterial activity,’ said Jad.
‘The scientific life is a real challenge by itself. Scientists always find themselves in front of problems and they have to find a solution or solutions. During my PhD, I had to deal with a broad number of challenges but at the end of the day this is part of the game and I am happy that I am trying to improve the life of others.’