Mr Christopher Asquith is currently studying for a PhD in Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry at University College London – School of Pharmacy under the supervision of Dr Stephen Hilton developing novel Zinc abstractors. He graduated in Chemistry from The University of Southampton, which was followed by an MSc in Chemistry (by research) at The University of Southampton completed under the supervision Professor A. Ganesan.
Therapeutic resistance to anti-viral drugs via mutation is a major challenge affecting both human and veterinary medicine. Since the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 1984 this single disease has caused 25 million deaths worldwide clearly highlighting the unique challenge in this research area. Amongst nonhuman vertebrates, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection is perhaps the closest biological model of HIV infection with an analogous late-stage AIDS-type progression. Exploiting these overlaps by targeting the mutation resistant nucelocapsid protein (NCp) in FIV that performs the same role as the NCp7 protein in HIV and other lentiviruses, has led to the development of highly active small molecules which represent a new therapeutic approach. There is currently no crystal structure for the FIV nucleocapsid protein, so through the design of a strong homology model, we are able to dock existing and potential compounds in a form of in-silco screening using our results and the literature to train the model and improve the results. Active compounds are then synthesised and tested against chronically infected FIV cell lines, with pre-screen cytotoxic testing to assess the therapeutic window of activity. The validated anti-viral activity of the compounds puts us in a strong position for further development. This work is carried out between UCl and The University of Zurich, Switzerland along with other collaborators based at the University of Eastern Finland, Finland; N. D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry RAS, Russian Federation and The Royal Veterinary College (RVC), UK.
- Asquith, C. R. M., Meli, M. L., Konstantinova, L. S., Laitinen, T., Poso, A., Rakitin, O. A., Allenspach, K., Hofmann-Lehmann, R., Hilton, S. T (2014). Viral Achilles heel: The nucleocapsid protein of FIV and related lentiviruses as a therapeutic target. ACS National Meeting, 248, MEDI 380. Access Abstract
- Asquith, C. R. M., Meli, M. L., Konstantinova, L. S., Laitinen, T., Poso, A., Rakitin, O. A., Allenspach, K., Hofmann-Lehmann, R., Hilton, S. T (2014). Viral Achilles heel: The nucleocapsid protein of FIV and related lentiviruses as a therapeutic target. Tetrahedron Symposium, 15.