CHEM-4703(3) “Topics in Chemistry”


CHEM-4703(3) “Topics in Chemistry” 



[This course addresses “UNIQUE CHEMICAL SPECIES IN HEALTH AND DISEASE & IN HOST-PATHOGEN INTERACTIONS: Implications in pathogenesis, therapy and immunology/vaccinology”] 

Instructor: Dr. Michael O. Eze 


There exists a dire need to approach research on host-pathogen interactions, cancer, and degenerative diseases in much more incisive ways. This calls for the design of courses incorporating novel approaches that would target specific aspects of host-pathogen interactions; and chemical toxicity from interdisciplinary vantage points. Thus, traditional thinking should be blended with more radical approaches. For instance, the student deserves a deeper insight into the chemistry of free radicals, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and nitric oxide (NO) as these rather unique chemical species are involved in pathogenesis, etiology and therapy (immunotherapy and chemotherapy) of cancers, and other diseases, as well as in vaccinology. At rather low levels, ROS and NO play subtle but vital regulatory roles in gene expression, cardiovascular and neuronal events for instance. They also play critical roles in cellular oxidative stress, pathogenesis of aging, and many other degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS), and Parkinson’s diseases, Multiple sclerosis, Cataracts, and complications of Diabetes, etc. 

The other relevant species are 1) potentially reactive chemical intermediates like Michael reaction acceptors, and cellular Maillard reaction products. 2) advanced glycation end products (AGEs). 3) sphingomyelinases and ceramide. This course, therefore, arms the students with the proper contexts (apart from traditional immunological concepts, for instance) within which to base interpretations of results of appropriately designed experiments. 

Texts & Resources: 

There is no single reference textbook. 

Students are guided to appropriate and current resources, texts and other publications. 

Course Outline: 

This Topics in Chemistry UNIQUE CHEMICAL SPECIES IN HEALTH AND DISEASE” course addresses: 

Weeks 1-9: 

Oxygen as a biradical; reactive oxygen species (ROS), nitric oxide (NO), the thiol group and reactive sulfur species; carbon-centered free radicals: Chemistry; and production and roles in biological systems: 

Signal Transduction mechanisms; Oxidative stress; Inflammation and Cellular immune mechanisms involving ROS & NO. The role of cytokines, chemokines and other response modifiers (Clearance of 2 

intracellular pathogens: HIV/AIDS and other viral pathogens; Plasmodium spp., Leishmania, Brucella, Mycobacteria, etc). Detoxification mechanisms (Induction of phase 2 enzymes). 

Antioxidants and Nutraceuticals (Health foods and Eating healthy; e.g., sulforaphane and others) 

Therapeutic and host toxicity mechanisms of antimalarials. 

Immunogenicity/vaccinology [Receptor – ligation →Signal Transduction (ROS, NO, guanylate cyclase)] 

Toxicity Perspectives and Disease: Cancer (Mechanisms of carcinogenesis); Pathogenesis of aging, and other degenerative diseases studied to date, including, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s (ALS), and Parkinson’s diseases, Multiple Sclerosis, Cataracts, and complications of Diabetes, and others. 

Thiol antagonists as Fatty acid synthesis inhibitors, and potential sources of broad spectrum antibiotics against bacteria and apicomplexan protozoal pathogens. 

Protein disulfide isomerase in health and disease; 

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) 

Sphingomyelinases, Sphingolipids and ceramide in health and disease. 

Weeks 10 – 11 

Specific issues arising from the literature: critical review, and interpretation of research findings in recent relevant publications. 

[NOTE: Main topics to be treated will be selected to satisfy the special interests, desires and aspirations of the students enrolled in the course. Items are covered to the extent that time permits]. 

Research Papers: 

Consistent with the intent to sharpen the student’s inquisitive mind, each student writes one major research paper (due week 9 of the course). This paper is on a topical issue within the theme. The student chooses a topic, and gets it approved by the Instructor, before proceeding to write. 


Mid-Term Test: 25% 

One major Research Paper on a relevant topical issue within the general theme: 20% 

Final Exam: 55% 100% 

This course is a 3-credit 4th -year course but does not exclude 3rd –years who have the relevant background. It may be taken by graduate students; in which case greater emphasis is placed on mechanistic aspects of reactions, as well as on the depth and breadth of the research paper. 

Prerequisites: CHEM-3502(3) or -3503(3) or Permission of the Instructor