Dr Shaimaa Ahmed.

Scholar with Love for Community Work Graduates with Doctorate

Dr Shaimaa Ahmed, who is passionate about working in community-based pharmacy settings, has been awarded a doctorate following her research into nanoparticles-based drug delivery systems.

The wife of the Dean of UKZN’s School of Health Sciences Professor Mahmoud Soliman, Ahmed’s PhD study resulted in five articles being published in high impact international journals – a huge accolade for a doctoral student during her years of study.

The study was titled: Molecular Modelling Approaches for the Design and Understanding of Structural Features of Novel Materials and Nano-Based Drug Delivery Systems to Address the Challenges in Antibacterial Therapy.

Nanoparticles-based drug delivery systems have become a promising strategy to overcome the serious limitations of conventional dosage forms.

Ahmed, who is originally from Egypt, said: ‘The conventional dosage forms of antibiotics, such as capsules and tablets, have serious limitations, namely low drug concentration at target sites, short half-life, side effects and the necessity of frequent doses. These factors might have implications for patient adherence and the emergence of drug resistance. In recent years, we have seen a rise in multi-drug resistant strains internationally due to antibiotics losing their efficacy.

‘About two million people have become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23 000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections,’ said Ahmed.

The applications of nano drug delivery is a strategic approach to improve managing patients with infectious diseases as well as antibiotic resistance. Nanotechnology offers many potential benefits to medical research by making pharmaceuticals more efficacious and by decreasing their adverse side-effects.

Ahmed’s supervisor, renowned nanotechnology expert in drug delivery systems, Professor Thiru Govender, congratulated her. ‘Shaimaa merged her molecular modelling skills with drug delivery research in our laboratory which led to the resultant high impact outcomes. The work she has undertaken has contributed to a molecular understanding of nano drug delivery systems and pharmaceutical materials against bacteria for guiding the development of new medicines.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis