The lesson of the loaves: small machines, big impact in drug analysis

(An inaugural lecture)


Professor Sunday Olakunle Idowu

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Faculty of Pharmacy,

University of Ibadan.


Drug analysis is a systematic testing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API's), other pharmaceutical necessities, intermediate products and finished dosage forms. Quantitative estimation, of the API's embedded in sample matrices of varying compositions, presents analytical challenges of varying complexities. Instrumental methods have become very popular and preferred for official drug analysis, because of the merits of high throughput, sensitivity and very low limit of detection, relative to the low-cost and time-honoured classical methods of analysis.

In this lecture, development of new chemical reagents and assay technologies for drug analysis will be discussed. Design and development of bio-relevant assay methodologies is a central theme. Innovative use of familiar molecular probes and inexpensive instruments, through a fusion of experimental and computational technologies (Chemoinformatics) afforded a novel framework of antioxidant capacity profiling of polyphenol dietary supplements. Computational Antioxidant Capacity Simulation (CAOCS) is the novel framework. Chemoinformatics was also employed to develop an aritificial membrane, engineered from a naturally occurring lipid, for lipophilicity profiling of small-molecule drugs. Extensions of its use include; lead optimization in early-stage drug discovery science and biopharmaceutics modelling.

Chemoinformatics was sucessfully applied to molecular engineering. In particular, bench-stable crystalline form of the reactive, 4-carboxyl-2,6-dinitrobenzendiazonium ion (CDNBD) was prepared for the first-time in the Idowu lab, and currently being developed for use as chromophoric labelling agent. The aryl diazonium is one of the most reactive aryl diazonium reagent ever documented in chemical literature. CDNBD was also covalently grafted to activated charcoal, to prepare a functionalized activated charcoal which is under development as a specialty sorbent for solid phase extraction (SPE), an important step in sample pre-treatment for drug analysis. Collaborative research with Veterinary Parasitologists in the University of Ibadan is leading to development of anthelmintic phytomedicines for use in the management of helminthosis of livestock. Phytomedicines are attractive solution option to the problem of anthelmintic drug resistance and the safety concern over drug residues in livestock products. These findings have the potential to drive the emerging organically-farmed livestock market in the country.

The research platforms created in the Idowu lab, are fundamental and decisive contributions to Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Several postgraduate students have, and are being trained, in the manipulative skills required for 'trace analysis', on these projects. Many of these are currently academic staff of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Ibadan. This is an eloquent testimony to Professor Idowu's robust contribution to the discipline of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

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