Chemistry and pharmacology of natural products from Panax ginseng (STOKES_U17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Pharmacy

Start Date:  1st October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Leanne Stokes

Project description: Ginseng is a medicinal herb used in traditional medicine in Asia for thousands of years. In traditional Chinese medicine practices it is an “all healing” precious tonic thought to have many beneficial effects including stimulating the immune system. The pharmacologically active constituents of ginseng are known as ginsenosides and there are over 30 different chemicals present. We recently discovered that several protopanaxadiol ginsenosides, including the major in vivo metabolite (ginsenoside CK) act as positive allosteric modulators of the P2X7 ion channel. The action of ginsenosides reduces the concentration of the ligand ATP required for channel activation and enhances downstream signalling pathways including an increase in macrophage cell death. This action of ginsenoside CK on P2X7 may underlie some of the reported immune boosting actions of ginsenosides in vivo. In this PhD project we will explore the structure-activity relationship of the interaction between protopanaxadiol ginsenosides and P2X7. We have a basic idea of which chemical groups are required for activity at this ion channel (Helliwell et al, 2015; British Journal of Pharmacology) and will explore this further using a semi-synthetic chemistry approach in collaboration with experienced medicinal chemists. During this project we will design and generate novel analogues of ginsenosides to test for improved activity at P2X7. The student will be trained in a number of medicinal chemical and biological techniques in two different laboratories (Stokes and Ganesan) gaining a unique background in pharmacology and drug discovery. 

Person specification:  Minimum entry 2:1

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296pa – 2016/7), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

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South East England