Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
South Africa



Alzheimer’s Disease: The Tau Approach at Drug Development

Published Date: 05 August 2019    

Khuthadzo Rambau

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Sefako Health Sciences University

South Africa

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the neurodegenerative diseases responsible for the death of many in the world. Among its signs and symptoms of manifestation are the two pathological hallmark features called “plaques” and “tangles” found outside and inside the neuron, respectively. There is no cure for this disease, but drug treatment exists to reduce the severity of it’s symptoms. Different research strategies continue for development of drugs that could potentially prevent and cure the disease. One of these approaches being looked at is the tau protein forming tangles and TIA1 binding protein that could be manipulated to give the desired treatment effect.


Keywords: Alzheimers’s disease, plaques, tangles, tau,TIA1


Alzheimer’s Association Report. 2019. Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures., Alzheimer’s & Dementia.15, 321-387.
Carey, G. Adeloye, D. Chan, KY & Paul, A. 2012. An estimate of the prevalence of dementia in Africa: A systemic analysis. Journal of Global Health. 2, 2.
Cummings, J. Lee,G. Ritter, A and Sabbagh, M. 2019. Alzheimer’s disease drug development pipeline. Alzheimer’s and Dimentia. 5, 272-293.
Giordani, B. 2018. The latest in Alzheimer’s disease research. Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Core Centre.

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The Effects of Alcohol in Patients taking Anti-depressants

Publication Date: 31 July 2019

Collins Rapudi

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Sefako Makgatho Health Science University

South Africa


Alcoholism is a major problem which South Africans are facing when compared to other countries. Alcohol management and awareness should be practiced in order to reduce the level of consumption and the negative effects caused by alcoholism. Alcoholism and simultaneous administering of prescribed drugs can cause clinical complications. Drug-drug interaction between alcohol and anti- depressants can be harmful such as when Moclobimide is taken with alcohol causes hypertensive crisis.

Keywords: Alcohol, Anti-depressants, Drug-drug Interaction


Davis LL, Rush JA, Wisniewski SR, Rice K, Cassano P, Jewell ME et al. Substance use disorder comorbidity in major depressive disorder: an exploratory analysis of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression cohort. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 2005;46:81–9.

Croop RS, Faulkner EB, Labriola DF. The safety profile of naltrexone in the treatment of alcoholism: results from a multicenter usage study. Arch Gen Psychiatry,1997;54:1130-5.

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African Potato: The Health and Medicinal benefits

Publication Date: 06 March 2019

Tebogo Hamese

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University



African potato is widely used as an immune booster for the treatment of various ailments. A study on the trade in medicinal plants in the Eastern Cape province revealed that African potato tops the list of the 60 most frequently traded species. The ministries of health of several African nations have promoted African potato for the treatment of HIV and associated symptoms. African potato does not cure Aids, but it does slow down the progress of the disease even though this is not without its side-effects. The nor-lignan glycoside called hypoxoside converts to rooperol once in the human gut. This plant also contains various sterols (β-sitosterol, stigmasterol) and their glycosides (sterolins), which have been purported to have important biological activity. Research has shown that rooperol has potent pharmacological activity, whereas hypoxoside acts as a nontoxic, multifunctional prodrug.

Keywords: African potato; HIV/AIDS; hypoxoside; rooperol
Mills E., Cooper C., Seely D., and Kanfer I. 2005. African herbal medicines in the treatment of HIV: hypoxis and sutherlandia. An overview of evidence and pharmacology. Nutrition Journal. 4, 19.
Morris K. 2002. South Africa tests traditional medicines. Lancet infect dis. 2, 319.
Smit B.J., Albrecht C.F., Liebenberg R.W., Kruger P.B., Freestone M., Gouws L., Theron E., Bouic P.J., Etsebeth S., van Jaarsveld P.P., 1995. A Phase I trial of hypoxoside as an oral prodrug for cancer therapy absence of toxicity. S Afr Med J. 85, 865-870.


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Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM)

Publication Date: 22 February 2019

Mokatse K.M.P.

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) is defined as the clinical practice of measuring specific drugs at  intervals to keep a constant concentration in a patient’s bloodstream.

TDM demands a combined approach consisting of pharmaceutical, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamic techniques and analyses. The appropriate way of using TDM requires measurement of patient blood drug concentration and a comparison to a target range. TDM plays a very important role in the development of safe and effective therapeutic medications and individualization of these medications. Additionally TDM can help to identify problems with medication compliance among noncompliant patient cases. When interpreting drug concentration measurements, there are factors that need to be considered which include the sampling time in relation to the dose, the dosage history, the patient’s response, and the desired clinical targets.

Keywords: pharmacokinetics, target range, drug monitoring


Begg, E.J.Barclay, M.L, Duffuli, S.B. 1995. A suggested approach to once-daily aminoglycoside dosing. BR J Clin Pharmacol. 39, 605-609.

Birkett, D.J. 1997. Therapeutic drug monitoring. Aust Prescr. 20. 9-11.

Chatterjee, K. 2002. Congestive heart failure: what should be the intial therapy and why. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2, 1-6.

Gross, A.S.1998. Best practice in therapeutic drug monitoring. BR J Pharmacol. 48, 95-90.

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New Therapeutic Options for Breast Cancer

Publication Date: 15 February 2019

Nicholas Keetile

Gauteng Province: Health

BPharm; MSc (med); (PhD); mISOPP; mSASOP

As new therapeutic options for breast cancer become available, it is crucially important to unpack the profiles of different pharmacological agents so as to select more tolerable therapies for patients.  

Breast cancer is a type of cancer which commonly originates from the milk ducts or the lobules of the breast tissue. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women worldwide (fig.1). Approximately 7% of women in the world are diagnosed with this disease before the age of 40. In South Africa, one in 13 white patients is diagnosed with breast cancer while one in 81 black patients present with this disease Although chemotherapy is still regarded as the mainstay of therapy for breast cancer, newer approaches which involve hormonal and immunotherapies are used today (fig.2). This presentation provides an overview of breast cancer and the pharmacological basis of both hormonal and immunotherapies used to treat it. A comparison between commonly used chemotherapy agents, hormonal and immunotherapies is drawn and more prudent therapies/combination of therapies is recommended.

Keywords: breast cancer, hormonal therapies, immunotherapies


Anders, C. K., Johnson, R., Litton, J., Phillips, M. and Bleyer, A. (2009). Breast Cancer Before Age 40. Seminars in Oncology, [online] Volume 36(3), pp. 237-49. Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019].

Isakoff, S. J. (2010). Triple Negative Breast Cancer: Role of Specific Chemotherapy Agents. Cancer Journal, [online] Volume 16(1), pp. 53-61. Available at: [Accessed 26 January 2019].

Dine, J., Gordon, R., Shames, Y., Kasler, M. K., & Barton-Burke, M. (2017). Immune checkpoint inhibitors: An innovation in immunotherapy for the treatment and management of patients with cancer. Asia-Pacific journal of oncology nursing, [online] 4(2), pp. 127-35. Available at:

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Chemical Bonding in Drug-Receptor Interaction

Publication Date: 08 February 2019

J Pieter H van Wyk

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics,

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University


South Africa

Pharmacology importance: An interaction or the formation of a chemical bond between a drug and receptor in an important prerequisite for the therapeutic action of a drug.

Drug therapy, also called pharmacotherapy, is a general term for using medication to treat diseases. Drugs interact with receptors or enzymes in cells to promote healthy functioning and reduce or cure illness. The effective interaction between the drug and the receptor will determine the efficiency of the drug action. Although most drugs are required to bind weakly and reversibly to their respective receptors it is however, in certain circumstances, required that the drug-receptor interaction is more permanent and irreversible. The permanent interaction between the drug and receptor is required during the treatment of cancer patients. Example of irreversible chemical interaction is evident with phenoxy-benzamine and alpha receptors, between organophosphates and cholinesterase.

The type of chemical bonds ensuring a relative weak and reversible interaction between drug and receptors are classified as:

Ionic bonds, Ion-dipole forces, Special Dipole-dipole: Hydrogen bonds, Dipole-Dipole Interaction (not hydrogen bonds), Induced dipole – induced dipole - London forces, Van der Waals forces (between molecules).  Permanent and irreversible interaction between drugs and receptors are accomplished by means of Covalent Bonds.

Keywords: drugs, receptors, chemical bonds


Katzung, B. G. Basic Principles: Introduction in Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, (Katzung, B.G., ed) Appleton-Lange, 1998, p.1-4.

Principles of clinical pharmacology, Stephen W Page, Jill E Maddison, in Small Animal Clinical Pharmacology (Second Edition), 2008

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  • Alzheimer’s Disease: The Tau Approach at Drug Development
  • The Effects of Alcohol in Patients taking Anti-depressants
  • African Potato: The Health and Medicinal benefits
  • Therapeutic Drug Monitoring
  • New Therapeutic Options for Breast Cancer
  • Chemical Bonding in Drug-Receptor Interaction