UKZN Shines at SA Society for Basic and Clinical Pharmacology Conference
A UKZN Discipline of Pharmaceutical Science student and two academics gave outstanding podium presentations at the recent 2019 South African Society for Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (SASBCP)’s 53rd Annual Conference at the University of Pretoria.
The University representatives were the Division of Pharmacology’s Rev Dr Lehlohonolo Mathibe, the Division of Pharmaceutical Chemistry’s Professor Rajshekhar Karpoormath and final-year BPharm student Mr Siyabonga Ndlovu.
Their podium presentations were well-received and stimulated robust debates.
Mathibe presented on whether ‘parents/guardians accompanying children with acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) influenced physicians/nurses to prescribe antibiotics’ in public healthcare settings. Mathibe said the majority of the URTIs were caused by viruses and were self-limiting, meaning antibiotic therapy has no benefit.
However, his research found that 76% (n = 233) parents /guardians received antibiotics for URTIs for their children -- and 73% (n = 223) of parents /guardians did not ask or influence the doctors/nurses to prescribe antibiotics.
Mathibe was also awarded 1st Prize for the SASBCP Best Publication Award in the clinical pharmacology category for his publication titled: Management of Stable Angina Pectoris in Private Healthcare Settings in South Africa, which was published in the CardioVascular Journal of Africa in 2018.
Karpoormath’s presentation stemmed from the findings of an international collaboration research project with eminent academics at the University College London in England, Sapienza University of Rome, the National Institute of Health Centre for the Control and Evaluation of Medicines and the D'Annunzio University of Chieti/Pescara in Italy.
It was titled: Design and Discovery of a Novel Kinesin Spindle Protein (KSP) Inhibitors as Potential Anticancer Agents.
The KSP is a kinesin microtubule-based motor protein, also known as Eg5, which plays a crucial role cell division. Inhibition of KSP causes death of cancerous cells.
Karpoormath’s research findings show that computationally designed 1,3,4-thiadiazole hybrids displayed promising inhibition of KSP.
The highlight of this work was that for the first time crystal complex of the KSP with the racemic mixtures K858 (highly potent thiadiazole analogues under clinical trials) was successfully obtained, which revealed that only isomer S-K858 was active. The structural insights gained from the Eg5-K858 complex, will assist the researchers globally in developing new potent anticancer agents.
Ndlovu’s presentation was from an honours-degree-level research study he did with other final-year BPharm students. It was titled: Effects of Z-venusol on Cancer-related Inflammatory Cytokines in MDA-MB-231, BT-20 and MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cell Lines In Vitro.
His study found that Z-venusol, a pure compound which was isolated from an indigenous southern African medicinal plant known as Gunnera perpensa (commonly known as the “river pumpkin or ugobo in isiZulu), has a potential as a therapy for breast cancer that is resistant to currently-available chemotherapy.
Dr Zaphy Nlooto, Academic Leader in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, congratulated the trio for representing the Discipline and UKZN with distinction.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini