Dr Fortunate Mokoena, North-West University (NWU) academic in the subject group Biochemistry, has been awarded the Grand Challenges Africa drug discovery grant.
Dr Mokoena was awarded this grant for her study “Identification of Novel Inhibitors against Malarial Hsp90”.
In this study she coupled molecular docking approaches with in vitro and in vivo validation to identify novel inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agents of the lethal disease, malaria.
“Current drugs targeting these pathogens have limited efficacy due to the development of resistance, and can cause severe side effects,” says Dr Mokoena.
She and her team will identify a new group of drugs that specifically target parasitic molecular chaperone proteins, in particular heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), which is an ATPase that helps correctly fold newly synthesized proteins.
More about the Grand Challenges Africa drug discovery grant programme
Drug discovery excellence is a critical prerequisite for success in drug development and remains a highly neglected area for the African continent. Therefore, this programme supports exciting new drug discovery projects in Africa, aimed at strengthening drug discovery capabilities on the continent and creating a project-driven virtual African drug discovery network.
This call is a partnership between the African Academy of Sciences, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Medicines for Malaria Venture and the University of Cape Town Drug Discovery and Development Centre.
Applications are assessed and selected based on scientific merit and their potential to advance the drug discovery process. Selected applicants also benefit from a network of drug discovery scientists in Africa and across the globe, linking them to peers, mentors and providing them with access to resources and technologies.
Dr Fortunate Mokoena.