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Stephen C. Pelly

Senior Lecturer
Office: 1037 De Beers Building
Phone: +27 (0)21 808-2180
Fax: +27 (0)21 808-3360

Educational Background:
PhD, University of the Witwatersrand

Research Emphasis:
Drug Design, Medicinal Chemistry, Organic Synthesis, Molecular Modelling


analitical chemistry
Analytical Chemistry

chemical chemistry Chemical Biology

inorganic chemistry Inorganic Chemistry

organic chemistry Organic Chemistry

physical chemistry Physical Chemistry

polymer science Polymer Science

supramolecular chemistry & materialsSupra- molecular Chemistry
& Materials

Research Summary:
As a medicinal chemistry research group, we combine synthetic organic chemistry and molecular modelling in a rational drug design approach. Currently, most of our research efforts are directed towards developing novel anti-HIV compounds, specifically non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) and integrase inhibitors.

Research Description:

The field of medicinal chemistry is a particularly rewarding research area as it requires expertise from several diverse backgrounds for a successful research project. Our main research focus is developing anti-HIV compounds, with a specific interest in designing and synthesizing non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and integrase strand transfer inhibitors. To this end we incorporate a significant amount of molecular modelling in the design phases of the project in order to identify novel promising compounds which are synthesized to establish proof of concept. Once this has been accomplished, we embark upon a more extensive synthetic campaign to accumulate SAR data which in turn provides valuable guidance for the ongoing modelling phase of the project, thus leading to optimized compounds in an iterative rational design process. This research is particularly relevant in a South African context, given the enormous social and economic problems we face as a result of a particularly high prevalence of the disease in our country, and indeed, sub-Saharan Africa in general.

This research is made possible by well-equipped laboratories with access to all the required spectroscopic services (in particular, NMR, mass spectrometry and single crystal X-ray diffractometry) as well as modern molecular modeling facilities. Collaborations with groups (both national and international) provides the expertise in areas such as whole cell and enzymatic assays, which are so critical to the overall success of the projects.


Selected Publications:

  • Novel indole based NNRTIs with improved potency against wild type and resistant HIV. Muller, R; Mulani, I; Basson, AE; Pribut, N; Hassam, M; Morris, L; van Otterlo, WAL; Pelly, SC. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 2014, 24, 4371-4380.
  • Synthetic and Biological Studies of Tubulin Targeting C2-Substituted 7-Deazahypoxanthines Derived from Marine Alkaloid Rigidins. Scott, R; Karki, M; Reisenauer, MR; Rodrigues, R; Dasari, R; Smith, WR; Pelly, SC; van Otterlo, WAL; Shuster, CB; Rogelj, S; Magedov, IV; Frolova, LV; Kornienko, A. ChemMedChem 2014, 9 1428-1435.
  • Synthesis of 4-Azapodophyllotoxins with Anticancer Activity by Multicomponent Reactions (Review). Botes, MG; Pelly, SC; Blackie, MAL; Kornienko, A; van Otterlo, WAL. Chemistry Of Heterocyclic Compounds 2014, 50, 119-138.
  • C1, C2-ether derivatives of the Amaryllidaceae alkaloid lycorine: Retention of activity of highly lipophilic analogues against cancer cells. Ramesh Dasari, Laetitia Moreno Y. Banuls, Marco Masi, Stephen C. Pelly, Véronique Mathieu, Ivan R. Green, Willem A.L. van Otterlo, Antonio Evidente, Robert Kiss, Alexander Kornienko. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters 2014, 24, 923-927.
  • Novel cyclopropyl-indole derivatives as HIV non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. M. Hassam, A. E. Basson, D. C. Liotta, L. Morris, W. A. L. van Otterlo and S. C. Pelly. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2012, 3, 470-475.
  • In search of a treatment for HIV – current therapies and the role of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). C. Reynolds, C. B. de Koning, S. C. Pelly, W. A. L. van Otterlo and M. L. Bode. Chemical Society Reviews, 2012, 41, 4657-4670.
  • Bulbispermine: a crinine-type Amaryllidaceae alkaloid exhibiting cytostatic activity toward apoptosis-resistant glioma cells. G. Luchetti, R. Johnston, V. Mathieu, F. Lefranc, K. Hayden, A. Andolfi, D. Lamoral-Theys, M. R. Reisenauer, C. Champion, S. C.  Pelly, W. A. L. van Otterlo, I. Magedov, R. Kiss, A. Evidente, S. Rogelj and A. Kornienko. ChemMedChem, 2012, 7, 815-822.
  • The Antibiotic CJ-15,801 is an antimetabolite that hijacks and then inhibits CoA biosynthesis. R. van der Westhuyzen, J. C. Hammons, J. L. Meier, S. Dahesh, W. J. Moolman, S. C. Pelly, V. Nizet, M. D. Burkart and E. Strauss. Chemistry and Biology, 2012, 19, 559-571.
  • In search of a cytostatic agent derived from the alkaloid lycorine: Synthesis and growth inhibitory properties of lycorine derivatives. N. M. Evdokimov, D. Lamoral-Theys, V. Mathieu, A. Andolfi, L. V. Frolova, S. C. Pelly, W. A van Otterlo, I. V. Magedov, R. Kiss, A. Evidente and A. Kornienko. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, 2011, 19, 7252-7261.
  • Imidazo[1,2-a]pyridin-3-amines as potential HIV-1 non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. M. L. Bode, D. Gravestock, S. S. Moleele, C. W. van der Westhuyzen, S. C. Pelly, P. A. Steenkamp, H. C. Hoppe, T. Khan, L. A. Nkabinde, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry 2011, 19, 4227-4237.
  • Arginine 15 stabilizes an SNAr reaction transition state and the binding of anionic ligands at the active site of human glutathione transferase A1-1. S. Gildenhuys, M. Dobreva, N. Kinsley, Y. Sayed, J. Burke, S. Pelly, G. P. Gordon, M. Sayed, T. Sewell, H. W. Dirr, Biophysical Chemistry 2010, 146, 118-125.
  • Stereoselective syntheses of the 2-isopropenyl-2,3-dihydrobenzofuran nucleus: Potential chiral building blocks for the syntheses of tremetone, hydroxytremetone, and rotenone. S. C. Pelly, S. Govender, M. A. Fernandes, H.-G. Schmalz, C. B. de Koning, The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2007, 72, 2857-2864.
  • Metathesis reactions for the synthesis of ring-fused carbazoles. S. C. Pelly, C. J. Parkinson, W. A. L. van Otterlo, C. B. de Koning, The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2005, 70, 10474-10481.
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