First University of Birmingham Pharmacy graduates contribute to research

Two undergraduate projects from the first cohort of MPharm Pharmacy graduates have been accepted for publication in peer reviewed journals, something that is usually reserved for PhD students rather than undergraduates.  

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The University of Birmingham’s first cohort of MPharm graduates have achieved exceptional results not only in their exams, but also outcomes from their final year projects. The publications demonstrate the capacity of the undergraduate pharmacy students to excel.

The development of ProTide 

The first paper, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, was co-authored by fourth and final year MPharm student Hardeep S Rattan.

Various strategies are employed in the discovery of new drugs. Among modern techniques is an approach known as ProTide technology. This approach has been used with success in discovering two new drugs – Sovaldi®, which is used to treat hepatitis C and Tenofovir alafenamide (TAF), which is used to treat HIV and hepatitis B. In addition, the ProTide technology has delivered numerous other drug candidates for the treatment of cancer and Ebola that are currently undergoing clinical trials.

Hardeep conducted a detailed review of the development of the ProTide technology, from how the idea came about in the late-1980s to how it has been developed and used successfully in the discovery of new drugs. This paper represents the most detailed and up-to-date review of the ProTide technology.

Harnessing drug safety data

Since an update to legislation in 2009, coroners are required to write reports on sudden, violent and unnatural deaths in order to uncover issues that might be avoided in future. Deaths caused by the use of medication are a common problem in healthcare systems. 

This research, conducted by fourth and final year MPharm student Craig Easton and published in Drug Safety, hypothesised that information from medication error deaths reported by coroners could provide drug safety data to improve the care of patients. As part of his investigation, Craig analysed 500 coroners' reports. 

Of the 500 reports, 100 deaths related to medication errors, with opiates, such as morphine, and anti-coagulants featuring in nearly half of all coroners' reports of medication errors. 

These coroners' reports contain valuable and rich pharmacovigilance data. However, from Craig's research it would appear that currently some of the wider lessons are not being as widely communicated to healthcare professionals as they could be. It is hoped that better use of this data might protect patients from medication errors.

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