Group Members - Staff
Dr Vuyo Mavumengwana
Head of TB Drugs Research Group
Dr Vuyo Mavumengwana is a specialist scientist of the SA Medical Research Council. He obtained his PhD from the University of Cape Town, Division of Chemical Pathology, focusing on the synthesis and subsequent evaluation of subversive substrates as anti-TB potential drug leads.
Dr Vuyo's research interests revolve around the generation (through bioprospecting and chemical synthesis) of biopharmaceuticals from microbes associated with marine sponges to apply in drug development strategies targeting pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB. Efforts are directed at utilizing organoboron chemistry to generate pseudo-natural products with enhanced bioactivity as novel anti-mycobacterial agents. These products are utilised by other members of the group and applied in the treatment of various Mycobacterium tuberculosis infected cells including brain cells.
Dr Lucinda Baatjies
Dr Lucinda Baatjies is a senior scientist of the SA Medical Research Council. She obtained her PhD from Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, investigating the regulation and immunogenicity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Rv1460.
Dr Baatjies' research interest is in the recovery and evaluation of novel antimycobacterial compounds obtained from marine invertebrate and 3D plant cell culture models. These compounds are used to explore the efficacy and mode of action in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infected liver, heart, kidney and brain cells.
Group Members - Students
Mr. Kudzanai Tapfuma
Isolation, purification, characterization and assessment of antimycobacterial metabolites from fungal symbionts of invasive ascidians and other marine organisms. Active metabolites are used in the modification of magnetite nanoparticles to create magnetic nano-metabolites. These agents are then evaluated for bioactivity against M. tuberculosis H37Rv in vitro, and infected THP1-macrophages ex vivo.
Ms. Ricquelle Williams
The discovery of anti-mycobacterial agents from fungal endophytes isolated from Cannabis sativa, which are screened against M. tuberculosis (MtB). As the current treatment procedure possesses adverse effects, along with the emergence of drug-resistant strains, my project focuses on Mtb-infected macrophages as targets for TB therapy.
Mr. Kudakwashe Nyambo
My project involves isolation, purification, characterization, and evaluating antimycobacterial efficacy of small molecules extracted from bacteria isolated from South African gold mine tailings. In addition, the research involves creating a machine learning (QSAR) model for screening small molecules against selected Mycobacterial tuberculosis essential protein targets. The compounds filtered by the machine learning model are virtually screened (via molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations) against essential protein targets of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Isolation and characterization of extremophilic soil bacteria derived from gold mine tailings in Johannesburg, South Africa. Anti-mycobacterial activity of crude and pure proteins isolated from these bacteria is assessed using Mtb-infected macrophages. Transcriptomics are also utilized to assess which genes (linked to potential druggable targets) are turned on or off during treatment with antimicrobial peptides.
Mr Francis Adu-Amankwaah
Effect of secondary metabolites from Mycobacterium tuberculosis against liver and kidney cells leading to the description of the actual pure compounds (and their targets) responsible for perturbations. The impact of first-line TB drugs metabolites on kidney cells are also assessed, their evaluation on heart cells is carried out in collaboration with Ms. Candice Februarie.
Synthesis and study of new (diphenylphosphino)ferrocene-aminoethyl-sulfonamide derivatives as antimycobacterial agents and application in M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages and other cell lines.
The project explores TB-drug induced cardiotoxicity.
Fungi associated with marine sponges is characterized and assessed for feasibility as producers of antineoplastic agents with a more specific focus on glioblastoma .
My research project entails the isolation, identification, and evaluation of antimicrobial compounds from endophytic fungi found within Fynbos species against mycobacterial models (M. smeg and Mtb H37Rv) and ThP-1 macrophage cells. In addition, the project includes the synthesis of magnetic dendrimer nanoparticles and its application as a bio-separation tool to further enhance the bioactivities of the antimicrobial compounds.
My project is titled Evaluation of Apoptotic Agents as Repurposed Anti-TB Drug Leads: the project assesses the anti-mycobacteria activity of apoptotic inducers (API) as mediators of Mtb-infected macrophages. We envisage that these molecules will enhance host cells’ response to clear the infection, unlike the current TB-treatments which target mostly actively replicating Mtb and take six to twelve months to complete.