SANBI receives MRC Flagship award

With Prof Alan Christoffels (Director, SANBI) is, left, Prof Ramesh Baruthram (Deputy Vice Chancellor, UWC),  and Prof Yusuf Osman (Dean of Dentistry, UWC) on the right

With Prof Alan Christoffels (Director, SANBI) is, left, Prof Ramesh Baruthram (Deputy Vice Chancellor, UWC), and Prof Yusuf Osman (Dean of Dentistry, UWC) on the right”

A team led by Professor Alan Christoffels recently received a MRC flagship award to undertake research on tuberculosis with a focus on developing methods to accelerate the identification of new tuberculosis drug targets.
Over the past 4 years, the team has been predicting new drug targets for tuberculosis and predicting the effect of DNA modifications on the ability of a patient to metabolize TB drugs. This work has now culminated in the funding of a multi-disciplinary research team comprising researchers at the Universities of Benin, KwaZulu Natal, Stellenbosch, Cape Town and Western Cape (Drs Gamieldien and Tiffin). The project will develop computing workflow systems and a query language to interrogate the myriad of tuberculosis clinical and genetic data. In parallel, this funding allows us to experimentally validate the predicted drug targets and will drive experiments to glean insights into genes that respond to
tuberculosis infection. The latter experiment data will refine our current computational predictive models. According to Professor Christoffels, “… besides the inter-institutional collaborations, we have cemented a collaborative partnership among SANBI, School of Pharmacy and Mathematics at UWC. Our colleagues at the University of Benin are funded by the NIH to look at tuberculosis drug metabolism and their work will enrich the development of a query language that can harness drug metabolism data. We are confident that the R&D on workflow systems will attract the attention of industry partners because of the applications across a range of disciplines”.