The Department of Biochemistry teaches Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology within the medical undergraduate program and contributes to science graduate studies and also to continuing medical education programmes.
Molecular Toxicology and Chemical Carcinogenesis: The inducibility and differential expression of the xenobiotic metabolising enzymes, cytochrome P450s (CYP) and glutathione S-transferases (GST) in response to exposure to environmental pollutants, toxicants, and carcinogens are being investigated. Glutathione metabolism, oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation, along with the role of CYP and GSTs are being investigated to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of cellular toxicity and how cellular protection against toxic insults may occur.
Molecular Basis of Cancer Development: Mutation in proto-oncogenes and tumor suppression genes are commonly believed to play important roles in the genesis of human cancer. Currently, work is aimed at identification, cloning and genetic modification of ras and ras-regulatory genes that can be used in attempts to develop gene therapy for the treatment of cancer in animal models. In addition, cell permeable polypeptides have been constructed and used to block growth signals from monomeric G proteins.
Cell Dynamics and the Regulation of Cell Proliferation, Differentiation and Neoplastic Transformation: Oscillations are apparent at most levels of biological organisation. More and more evidence has been presented in support of the view that intracellular signalling can take place through modulation of the rhythms; differentiation and cancer can result from changes in frequency amplitude and phasing. The essential role of protein phosphorylation in modulating transducing networks is well-recognised and current projects relate to studies of the dynamic aspects of enzymes involved in this process.
Lipoproteins and Disease: Plasma lipoproteins play key roles in health and disease. Current projects are investigating gestational hyperlipoproteinaemia in diabetic women, deficiency of lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase in renal disease and dyslipoproteinemia and the interaction of purines with lipoproteins in relation to hyperuricemia. There is also an interest in the lipoproteins of the Arabian camel.
Lipid Second Messengers and Apoptosis: Recently it has been shown that lipid second messengers play an important role in the apoptotic response and that novel lipid second messenger(s) might be responsible for the activation of the "apoptotic effector machinery". Currently, projects are investigating the effect of these lipid second messengers on tumor suppressor genes and the mechanism of action of these lipid second messengers on their effector molecules.
(last updated: 25-July-2002)
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