UCL School of Pharmacy


Whitgift School students contribute to open source Mycetoma project (MycetOS)

19 March 2024

Students from Whitgift School use the NMR and LCMS facilities at the UCL School of Pharmacy to analyse molecules they synthesised as part of the MycetOS project.

Whitgift students conduct LCMS sample analysis at the UCL School of Pharmacy

Mycetoma (eumycetoma), is a neglected tropical disease, primarily endemic in Africa that attacks the skin, deep muscle and bone, causing devastating deformities. Current treatments are ineffective, toxic and unaffordable resulting in amputation as the most common form of treatment. Finding an effective and affordable treatment for this neglected disease that does not lead to permanent disability is of the outmost importance and is the main goal of the open source Mycetoma consortium (MycetOS).

Founded in 2018, by Professor Mat Todd, the MycetOS consortium forms a partnership between Erasmus MC, University College London, University of Sydney and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), working together to find a treatment for this disease.

The students from Whitgift school accompanied by their teachers.

Secondary school students, under the supervision of UCL and the University of Sidney, have been contributing to this effort by synthesising new molecules that can be tested for antifungal activity. The students carried out the synthesis at their schools while keeping accurate electronic records of their work that can be shared with the consortium. Students from Whitgift School's Years 11-13 synthesised a new molecule from series 2 aminothiazoles, which they analysed at UCL facilities.

Whitgift students conduct NMR sample analysis at the UCL School of Pharmacy

Professor Mat Todd and Dr Erika Loizidou hosted the students at a half-day event at the UCL School of Pharmacy and introduced the group to techniques such as NMR spectroscopy and LCMS chromatography. The students had the opportunity to analyse their samples, discuss their findings with academics and learn more about this devastating disease and the importance of open science in accelerating the discovery of new medicines.

The molecules synthesised by Whitgift School students will be tested by the consortium partner in the Netherlands, and the results will be shared with the consortium and the wider public on github. The data generated will help the consortium in the design of the next generation of molecules in the search of treatment for mycetoma.

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