MANSAG charity holds 28th annual conference in Lincoln

The charity MANSAG (Medical Association of Nigerians Across Great Britain) held its 28th Annual conference at the Bentley Hotel, Lincoln from the 27th – 29th October 2017.

Many medics from across Britain and some dignitaries from Nigeria were in attendance. The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Alhaji Ahmed Yakasai, seized the opportunity to visit a few pharmaceutical points of interest in Lincoln, in particular, the School of Pharmacy at the University of Lincoln.

Alhaji Yakasai was given a guided tour of the facilities at Joseph Banks Laboratories which houses the School of Pharmacy. This was a unique networking opportunity for those in attendance and one that some of our MPharm students of Nigerian descent will always remember.

Photos from the tour are below.

Many thanks to everyone who helped to organise the conference at short notice!

Significant breakthrough on road to new superbug-killing antibiotic teixobactin

Scientists working to develop a ‘game-changing’ new antibiotic have made a significant advance towards creating commercially viable drug treatments by producing two simplified synthetic versions which are as potent as its natural form.

The breakthrough by researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, marks another important step to realising the potential of teixobactin in aiding the global fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens like MSRA. Teixobactin is a recently discovered natural antibiotic which many in the international scientific community believe could lead to creation of the first commercially viable new antibiotic drug in 30 years.

The Lincoln team has successfully synthesized new simplified versions of teixobactin which harness the same powerful antibiotic effects in a way that could be produced on a commercial scale. Their findings are published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal, Chemical Science.

Until now, scientists attempting to synthesise teixobactin believed they needed to use cationic (or positively charged) amino acids which bind to the bacterial target using a ‘side chain’. This meant they had to use either the very rare amino acid found naturally in teixobactin, called enduracididine, or alternative ones which had lower potency against superbugs.

Each amino acid sits at a specific place in teixobactin’s structure, and the Lincoln team has now successfully replaced enduracididine – which holds position ten – with two alternative amino acids which are not positively charged. These amino acids lack the ‘binding’ part, over-turning the prior understanding that enduracididine is essential for to so-called ‘target binding’ to be highly potent against superbugs.

With this new knowledge, synthesised versions of teixobactin can be more easily developed, taking the process from up to 30 hours to just ten minutes for a single coupling step – a significant step towards turning teixobactin into a viable new drug. Importantly, the two new simplified forms of teixobactin have also proven to have identical potency against superbugs as the natural form of teixobactin.

Dr Ishwar Singh, a specialist in novel drug design and development from the University of Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy, is leading the research team. He explained: “When teixobactin was discovered it was ground breaking in itself as a new antibiotic which kills bacteria without detectable resistance including superbugs such as MRSA. We have been investigating a way to simplify the design while retaining the high potency against resistant bacteria such as MRSA.

“This simplified design and more efficient synthesise will enable work to be carried out at a commercial level. Enduracididine was severely limiting our ability to do this because of its scarcity, a complex multistep synthesis, and long and repetitive steps of between 16 and 30 hours with high failure rate and very low yields.

“We needed to make a change to the structure so that we could make the molecule more viable for drug development. We had tried replacing it with other amino acids with a similar make up, but they all were less potent in comparison to the natural form of teixobactin. Now, we have discovered that we can in fact use amino acids which are structurally different, and are commercially-available. They are also 16 times more potent than a clinically-used antibiotic in killing the superbug MRSA, and they were also highly potent against other antibiotic-resistant infections, such as vancomycin resistant enterococci, and tuberculosis.”

The work builds on the success of the team’s pioneering research to tackle antimicrobial resistance over the past 18 months. Dr Singh is working with colleagues from the School of Life Sciences and the School of Chemistry at the University of Lincoln to develop teixobactins into a viable drug.

It has been predicted that by 2050 an additional 10 million people will succumb to drug resistant infections each year. The development of new antibiotics which can be used as a last resort when other drugs are ineffective is therefore a crucial area of study for healthcare researchers around the world. To view the article, click here: 10.1039/C7SC03241B

Find out more about the School of Pharmacy, University of Lincoln.

Students and staff standing outside the School of Pharmacy, UCL.

Pharmaceutical Science students visit University College London

On Wednesday 11th October, students at the School of Pharmacy visited the University College London’s (UCL) School of Pharmacy.

Along with staff from the School of Pharmacy, students from the BSc (Hons) Pharmaceutical Science programme had the opportunity to visit UCL as part of their studies at the University of Lincoln.

Find out more about the BSc (Hons) Pharmaceutical Science programme at the University of Lincoln.

British Heart Foundation charity event at Lincoln

Students from the School of Pharmacy’s Student Society will be hosting a charity event for the British Heart Foundation.

In conjunction with the Bodyshop, the event will be hosted on Tuesday 17th October, and also Thursday 19th October 2017, from 10am – 4pm in the Joseph Banks Laboratories.

All are welcome to join, there will be the chance to win various raffle prizes, along with sampling products from the Bodyshop!

Follow the School of Pharmacy’s official Student Society on Twitter.

Funded PhD Studentship opportunity involving diabetes related research

The School of Pharmacy, University of Lincoln, UK are offering a funded PhD Studentship. See below for details.

Background/Rationale:

Diabetes is a chronic human disease characterised by high blood glucose concentration which is caused by insulin deficiency. An estimated 4.5 million people in the UK have diabetes and the UK Government spends £10 billion per annum on the treatment and management of diabetes and diabetes related illness. It’s an extremely serious disease affecting both the macro and microvasculature leading to increased risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetic retinopathy, kidney failure and amputations.

The primary function of the pancreatic β-cells is to make and release insulin into the blood in order to maintain normal glucose levels. Critically, it is when the β-cells stops working properly that diabetes occurs. This loss of β-cell function is caused by changes in gene and protein expression. Importantly, a large group of proteins called RNA-binding proteins play a vital role in regulating protein expression and are, for example, known to be essential for the production of insulin. Yet the identity and function of the vast majority of RNA-binding proteins in β-cells are unknown. Emerging technologies will allow us to identify all RNA-binding proteins expressed in β-cells and determine which of these are regulated by glucose. This is an important first step in ascertaining the role of RNA binding proteins in the development of β-cell dysfunction and hence human diabetes.

Outcomes/Benefits:

· This work will help in designing strategies to preserve β-cell function and hence alleviate type-2 diabetes

· You will finish your PhD with a repertoire of scientific*, generic and transferrable skills which will be invaluable in your future career.

*e.g. islet isolation, pancreatic beta cell culture, molecular biology (e.g. qPCR), proteomics, protein and RNA biochemistry (e.g. Western blotting, polysome analysis, mRNP pulldown, CLIP (cross-linking immunoprecipitation)), Cell biology (fluorescence/confocal microscopy), bioinformatics

· This work will provide important data that will lead to publications and future grant applications

Requirements:

Applicants must be highly motivated, be able to work independently and as part as part of a team, be able to plan and manage their own work, and have an appropriate knowledge of the discipline. Relevant practical experience is highly advantageous.

Open to UK, EU and Overseas Students

Tuition Fees (capped at UK/EU fee level)