3. February 2021 | Magazine:

Drugs from gold compounds A short portrait of Seyedeh Mahbobeh Mahdavi from the doctoral programme "Drug Discovery and Chemical Informatics for New Anti-Infectives"

Gold, in a variety of forms, can be used in many ways from jewelry to medicine. Seyedeh Mahbobeh Mahdavi is a doctoral student of the Technische Universität Braunschweig in the doctoral program “Drug Discovery and Chemical Informatics for New Anti-Infectives”. She is researching how gold compounds could be used in new medicines under supervision of Professor Dr. Matthias Tamm. Therefore, she aims to synthesize and evaluate the biological activity of some metallodrug candidate compounds. We present a short portrait of her.

As a doctoral student in the iCA PhD programme, Seyedeh Mahbobeh Mahdavi is researching gold complexes for new anti-infectives. Photo credit: Hadi Dolati/TU Braunschweig

Who are you and what is your research topic?

I would like to introduce myself as Seyedeh Mahbobeh Mahdavi. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry from the Kharazmi University of Tehran, Iran. After that, I spent a couple of years on medicinal chemistry subjects as a researcher. I am currently working under the supervision of the head of the Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry (IAAC), Professor. Dr. Matthias Tamm, to carry out my iCA research topic which is the synthesis and biological evaluation of carboxylate functionalized N-Heterocyclic Carbene Gold Complexes. In short, one can say that I am researching how gold compounds can be used in medicines.

Which research question are you working on?

Drug discovery relying on natural product compounds and gold complexation is my main job in this project. Due to the fact that microorganisms are getting more resistant against existing drugs, the synthesis and developing of new drugs are very important. So in this project, we work on the synthesis of new drug candidate molecules and evaluation of their activities against microorganisms.

What makes this topic special for you?

Actually, my prior experience in organic and medicinal chemistry has provided me with unique technical skills that I can apply to this project. I really enjoy learning new things and by contributing to this project and topic, I was able to receive unique knowledge in gold chemistry from Professor Tamm. At the same time, the Corona pandemic showed us the importance of drug discovery developments, so making new drugs is the main special and exciting thing in this project for me.

Seyedeh Mahbobeh Mahdavi works on some chemicals that will immediately react with oxygen and moisture, so she needs to use a so called Glovebox to avoid these unwanted reactions. It is a device, which provides an atmosphere without oxygen and moisture. Picture credits: Hadi Dolati/TU Braunschweig

Why is your topic relevant to the pharmaceutical research?

My project title is “Carboxylate functionalized N-heterocyclic carbene complexes as Anti-infectives” which mainly focuses on gold complexes and consists of chemical synthesis and biological evaluation of targeted molecules. There has been a wide use of gold compounds since ancient times, particularly in traditional medicines. During the past decade, gold-based drugs have become an interesting topic in pharmaceutical research and metallodrug chemistry because of their antibacterial activities.

What is special about participating in the PhD program “Drug Discovery and Cheminformatics for New Anti-Infectives (iCA)”?

The iCA program consists of 15 fellows in a variety of different fields related to the pharmaceutical research. Not only will this give us a chance to enhance our knowledge through lab exchange programs but we can also get the benefit of learning how to collaborate with other fellows. Working in such a program lets us benefit from the talents of other fellows. While my strength may be seminar organization, a fellow might shine in creative thinking and we can share our skills.