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Study to develop new cancer drugs

Study to develop new cancer drugs

Durban University of Technology doctoral researcher, Parul Sharma has completed groundbreaking chemistry research using computer based models to obtain information about the bioactive structures for the design of anti-cancer drugs. Sharma’s research which involves the interdisciplinary study of computational chemistry and protein engineering was supervised by Prof Krishna Bisetty, co-supervised by Prof Juan J Perez from Polytechnic Catalonia, Barcelona and Dr Parvesh Singh, a research associate within the Chemistry Department.

The scientist of note from New Delhi, India will receive her degree on 21 April 2011.

Sharma studied a series of neuropeptides which are small protein-like molecules that are responsible for many cancers including prostate and lung cancer. The study undertaken within the University’s Chemistry Department, involved an assessment of all possible structures that neuropeptides can adopt with the view to determine the most preferred bioactive structure. The present work would assist to better understand the structures and the mechanism of action of these cancer causing peptides that could be helpful in the design of new anti-cancer drugs. “In future one can design antagonists which will have opposite action to these peptides, the use of this information would finally lead to the design of anticancer drugs,” said Sharma.

The study was funded by DUT in collaboration with the National Research Foundation: Spanish-SA bilateral agreement which allowed her to travel to Spain for two months in 2009 to complete advance data analysis. In addition to the study, Sharma is using computational methods to understand the bioactive structures of certain currently available anti-HIV drugs. She added the information obtained from these simulations could be helpful in the design of more potent anti-HIV drugs.

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