South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit


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Prof Kelly ChibaleDirector: Prof Kelly Chibale

The Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit (DDRU) is located at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) at the Medical School of the University of Cape Town. As part of a drug discovery campaign the unit specialises in the use of innovative drug discovery tools for the development of drugs targeted for treatment of infectious and other endemic African diseases. Africa possesses a myriad of novel and isolated natural products with potential use as drugs from its abundant biodiversity. The research focus of the Unit is to integrate African Natural Products and general biodiversity in modern drug discovery paradigms.  This  involves a multidisciplinary approach in drug discovery from African sourced and mined natural products based on modern technology platforms. The use of Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion (ADME) - guided medicinal chemistry with attendant interfaces with chemoinformatics and biological function inform the research processes, which leads to higher ratio of hit to lead target compounds.  This paradigm shift in the approach of medicinal chemistry which integrates drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics will play a significant role in Africa’s drug discovery and development campaigns.

The Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit is a new Unit in the MRC and its objectives are:

  • To establish  scientific  infrastructure as well as capacity for drug discovery and development of natural products using Africa’s rich biodiversity including natural medicines;
  • To develop  infrastructural and operational systems for new drug discovery and development, with special reference to natural product-guided medicinal chemistry as well as biological screening platforms against infectious and other diseases;
  • To attract  young African scientists  for a concerted effort in transformation and capacity building in the area of drug discovery and development; and
  • To provide career development opportunities for researchers.

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Last updated:
29 February, 2016
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