Anti-Cancer drug discovery research within College of Pharmacy, Gulf Medical University: Student Engagement Story

Fatiha Hammed and Dalia Alsaeedy, are among the top PharmD students in the College of Pharmacy, Gulf Medical University who showed significant passion and competence towards drug discovery related research. Both Fatiha and Dalia went through a wet lab summer research internship for 3 months at Virginia Commonwealth University, USA. Afterward, both students engaged in another wet-lab training under the supervision of Dr. Ahmed Al-Abd (Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, Gulf Medical University) in the highly equipped laboratories of Thumbay Research Institute of Precision Medicine (TRIPM), Gulf Medical University. Fatiha and Dalia received intensive training bringing them to the mastery level on a cutting-edge technologies/instruments, such as handling mammalian cancer cells, anticancer screening techniques using neutral red assay, RNA extraction and cDNA archiving, western blotting techniques, cell cycle analysis by flowcytometry technique, Annexin-V/FITC-aided apoptosis detecting and chromosomal integrity analysis by comet assay.

In April 2019, GMU funded a grant proposed by Dr. Ahmed Al-Abd and Dr. Ahmed Negmeldin, Assistant professor of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, GMU who designed and synthesized a series of novel compounds with potential anticancer properties. Immediately, Fatiha and Dalia joined actively the task force team for undertaking the anticancer assessment and target validation for the synthesized compounds. One of the designed compounds showed promising inhibitory activity to the enzyme glycogen-synthase kinase (GSK-3β) with subsequent anticancer potential. The activity of the novel compounds were confirmed against 60 different types of cancer cells in the laboratories of the division of cancer treatment and diagnosis under the developmental therapeutics program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA

On June 22-24th, 2020, Fatiha Hammed and Dalia co-authored a poster presented in the late breaking section in the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR); the abstract has been published (DOI: 10.1158/1538-7445.AM2020-LB-236) in August 2020 in the Journal of “Cancer Research” which carries an Impact Factor of 9.727.

Fatiha commented “I have always been passionate about research and I feel grateful to have learned so much under the tutelage of Dr. Ahmed Al-Abd. I believe this will be a milestone in my pursuit of a research career”. Dalia commented “This experience further solidified my interest in scientific research. I’m very lucky and grateful to have been allowed this opportunity.”. Dalia joined the recently approved Master of Drug Discovery and Development program in the College of Pharmacy, GMU. Fatiha and Dalia’s supervisor, Dr. Ahmed Al-Abd added “Fatiha and Dalia are my first GMU Scientific Kids and I am very proud of them”.

Professor Sherief Khalifa, Dean College of Pharmacy and Vice Chancellor-Quality and Global Engagement commented: It is great to see some of our students on track to become research scientists who will make important contributions to science and human health in years to come.