The School of Chemistry was delighted to welcome back alumnus Dr Clint Veale who recently travelled from South Africa where he is currently a senior lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
After completing his MSc in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry Clint returned to South Africa to pursue a PhD in Organic Chemistry at Rhodes University. Following this he was appointed as a lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Rhodes, and in 2018 he was appointed as a senior lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. From a research perspective, he has sought to grow an early drug discovery programme, with a special interest in exploring new targets for inhibition.
With financial support from the Royal Society Newton Fund, Clint has spent the last three years visiting Edinburgh and the School of Chemistry to work in the mass spectrometry facility, with the kind assistance of Dr Logan Mackay.
Commenting on his recent Edinburgh visit Clint said
In collaboration with Dr Dave Clarke, we have developed a gas phase model of a specific Protein-Protein Interaction (PPI), which is key to cellular proteostasis and ultimately cell survival, particularly in metabolically frantic cancer cells.
Inhibiting PPIs is a deliberate ploy to avoid classical classes of drug targets, and is seen by many in the field as a means of expanding the druggable chemical space we explore in the search for new treatments. Owing to our targets importance for cellular function, we are specifically aiming to exploit it to target Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a disease that disproportionately affects women of sub-Saharan African origin, and one which has no current targeted therapies.
Using this model we have been able to apply a Fragment Based Drug Discovery (FBDD) workflow to identify small molecular fragments which disrupt our target PPI. Importantly, the ability to disrupt the gas phase PPI model has translated into in vitro PPI inhibitory activity.