Designing neuropharmaceuticals to permeate the blood-brain barrier and combat neurological disorders

PI: Assoc Prof Jacques Joubert, University of the Western Cape

Bristol Collaborator: Professor Emma Robinson (Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience)


The number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and other neurological disorders in South Africa has increased by over 30% since the 1990’s. In 2019, the UK diagnosed around 850,000 people with AD. The number of patients who will need care and therapy as a result of AD will continue to grow in the coming decades due to ageing populations. Therefore new, innovative and effective medicines against AD is needed urgently world-wide. The University of the Western Cape’s Neurobiology Research Group has been developing and evaluating new prospective medicines for the treatment of AD. Recently the group identified a molecule, known as EBPD, that is able to reduce harmful oxidants and decrease the formation of protein deposits in the brain that lead to the development of AD. EBPD further showed ability to stop the formation of highly toxic protein complexes that further worsens AD progression. However, this promising new molecule does have potential problems with stability and its ability to reach the brain. Our group is therefore developing nanoparticle delivery systems to enhance the stability and delivery of EBPD into the brain. We will furthermore explore its ability to reduce inflammation associated with AD and use animal models to elaborate on the true potential of EBPD as a new AD medicine. Dr Joubert and Professor Robinson will be assisted on the project by several co-PIs from UWC: Professor David Fisher, Associate Professor Admire Dube, Dr Khayelihle Makhathi and Professor Carine Smith.