PhD student Jean Watermeyer recently hosted a seminar programme, Solving Protein Structures to Explain Protein Function, in the postgraduate centre, part of her commitments to her funders, the Harry Crossley Foundation.
The seminar focused on the structure of a vital enzyme, the human angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), in the regulation of blood pressure.
Hypertension is high on the list of common maladies among South Africans and one of the leading causes of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
"Because the human angiotensin-converting enzyme is crucial for the regulation of blood pressure, it has been the target of a number of hypertensive drugs. However, many of these drugs were originally designed with no prior knowledge of the structure of the enzyme," Watermeyer explained.
"The aim of all these studies is to further our understanding of the interactions between ACE and its inhibitors and to determine which factors contribute to domain-specificity, in the hope of developing antihypertensive drugs that have greater specificity and fewer side effects than those currently available."
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