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Research Fellows Directory

Suthananda Sunassee

Dr Suthananda Sunassee

Research Fellow


University of Aberdeen

Research summary

With the problems associated with an increasing incidence of cancer in an ageing society, the steady spread of HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases along with a growing resistance to current antibiotics, there is a continuous need for new and more effective medicines. Natural products chemistry is a principal area of research at the interface of the fields of chemistry and biology, accounting for at least 50% of all approved drugs on the market. Despite major investment and recent advances in all stages of drug discovery and development, there is a continuous need for new drugs and this ongoing drug discovery research requires a constantly expanding library of compounds with a wide range of molecular diversity, which is mainly achieved through the isolation of novel NPs or secondary metabolites.

Therefore, the research efforts of the Natural Products Research Group (NPRG) are directed towards the discovery of small organic natural product molecules that show promising activity against infectious diseases (Tuberculosis, Malaria, HIV/AIDS), pathogenic bacteria and non-communicable diseases such as cancer. One of the main objective of our research is to discover new chemical entities (NCEs) isolated from southern African terrestrial plants, marine invertebrates and micro-organisms. The chemical structures of these small organic molecules are elucidated mainly by standard spectroscopic analyses such as 1D and 2D NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) experiments, UV/Vis, Infra-Red, X-Ray Diffraction and Mass Spectrometry.

Through this Newton Advanced Fellowship, we seek to establish a multi-disciplinary international research programme at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in the fields of microbial natural products chemistry and Tuberculosis drug discovery by drawing on the skills and expertise of our UK collaborators; Prof Marcel Jaspars, Dr Deng Hai and Dr Rainer Ebel at the Marine Biodiscovery Centre at the University of Aberdeen (UA).

The NPRG is located in the Department of Chemistry at UCT and its research programme runs in accordance with the current focus areas of the MRC Drug Discovery Unit at UCT.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Exploring the molecular diversity and biomedicinal potential of South African actinomycetes for tuberculosis drug discovery

Scheme: Newton Advanced Fellowship

Dates: Nov 2016 - Oct 2019

Value: £96,000

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