HIV/AIDS Research Group

Research leader: Dr N Gama

HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis compete for the position of most detrimental disease, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. To augment the problem, infections by the causative agents can occur simultaneously and the treatment of all of these diseases are currently complicated by the development and spread of drug resistant microorganisms, all of which underscores the need for improved medications. We investigate bimetallic (tandem) metallodrugs based on the platinum group metals (PGMs) with every metal center directed against or designed for activity against a specific pathogen (HIV, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Plasmodium falciparum) or disease outcome (cervical cancer as opportunistic outcome of AIDS).

Facts about HIV/AIDS related to HIV Research at UP:

  1. Existing anti-retroviral drugs control viral replication if taken as prescribed; novel, less/non-toxic drugs are under development to decrease drug resistance and add to the arsenal available against HIV.
  2. HIV establishes latent reservoirs early on in the infection and the development of latency reversal agents (LRAs) could aid in the wholistic treatment of HIV. 
  3. Compounds that stimulate, boost or support the immune system contributes to the fight against AIDS; these can be naturally or synthetically derived.


Team 2023

Research Leader   Research Partner
Dr Ntombi Gama
Google Scholar
  Prof Debra Meyer
Sol Plaatje University, South Africa
PhD Students    
Sinothile Khuzwayo    
MSc Students    
Olwethuthando Nqavela Steven Raubenheimer  
Hons Students    
Nicole Gerrits    



  1. Dr Mamoalosi Selepe, Chemistry Department, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
  2. Dr Lungile Sitole, Biochemistry Department, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
  3. Prof J. Darkwa (Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
  4. Prof Dr Carsten Munk, University Kliniek Dusseldorf, Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany.


Recent Publications:​

  1. Putterill, B., Rono, C., Makhubela, B., Meyer, D and Gama, N. 2022. Triazolyl Ru(II), Os(II), and Ir(III) complexes as potential HIV-1 inhibitors. Biometals 35, 771–784. 
  2. Ramabulana, T., Scheepers, L-M., Moodley, T., Maharaj, V. J., Stander, A., Gama, N, Ferreira, D., Sonopo, M. S. and Selepe, M. A. 2020. Bioactive Lignans from Hypoestes aristate; Journal of Natural Products 83 (8), 2483-2489.
  3. Gama, N.H., Elkhadir, A.Y.F., Gordhan, B.G., Kana, B. D., Darkwa, J. and Meyer, D. 2016. Activity of phosphino palladium(II) and platinum(II) complexes against HIV-1 and Mycobacterium tuberculosis . Biometals 29, 637–650. 
  4. Gama, N., Kumar, K., Ekengard, E., Haukka, M., Darkwa, J., Nordlander, E and Meyer, D. 2016. Gold(I) complex of 1,1′-bis(diphenylphosphino) ferrocene–quinoline conjugate: a virostatic agent against HIV-1. Biometals 29, 389–397. 

Reseach projects:
Developing novel metallodrugs (containing metals abundant in South Africa) and isolated compounds from plants with activity against HIV enzymes, other viral or opportunistic infection targets and/or immune stimulatory effects.

Investigating the effects of the inhibitors on HIV pseudoviruses.

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