Drug Design and Action Group


Contact us

Dr. Mohammad Ghattas
College of Pharmacy, Building P
Al Ain University
P.O.Box: 112612 Abu Dhabi, UAE
Email:  mohammad.ghattas@aau.ac.ae
Phone: +971 2 6133 275


Old Members

  • Prof. Amal Yousef
  • Ms. Nermin Issa
  • Ms. Sarah Al Rawashdeh


Research areas

  • in silico Study of proteins and protein-ligand complexes
    Assessing enzymes’ binding site (e.g. druggability) and analysing their interactions with corresponding ligands so that a novel drug design strategy can be proposed & validated (via pharmacophore & docking).
  • Drug discovery and lead optimization
    Computer-aided drug design that includes hits discovery and lead optimization of several targets that are involved in Cancer (e.g. MPS1, PTPs, MDM2) and bacterial infections (e.g. ENRs).
  • Studying aggregation-based promiscuity
    Conducting tens of MD simulation for drug aggregate-protein complexes and extensively analyse them to figure out the driving forces behind such a phenomenon
  • in vitro evaluation of leads
    Screening compounds for their biological activity via different enzymatic assays. When required, this is extended to include antibacteraial assay through conventional testing methods.


  • Dr. Richard Bryce – The University of Manchester, UK
  • Bassam Ali – UAE University, UAE
  • Dr. Basem Sadek – UAE University
  • Dr. Sanaa Bardaweel – University of Jordan, Jordan


Research facilities

  • Molecular modelling lab includes:
    • Two advanced workstations
    • Specialised drug design software (e.g. MOE, Maestro, AMBER and ChemAxon)
  • Organic synthesis lab
  • Microbiology lab with state of the art equipment



  1. Mohamed, F.E., Al Sorkhy, M., Ghattas, M.A., (...), Al-Jasmi, F., Ali, B.R. A Novel Homozygous Missense Variant in the NAGA Gene with Extreme Intrafamilial Phenotypic Heterogeneity. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience. 2020, 70(1), pp. 45-55 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12031-019-01398-6
  2. Hijazi, A.K., Taha, Z.A., Ababneh, T.S., (...),Al-Bataineh, N, Al-Momani, W.M., Ajlouni, A.M. In vitro biological, catalytic, and DFT studies of some iron(III) N-ligated complexes. Chemical Papers. Accepted in 2019, In press. Chemical Papers. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11696-019-01009-z
  3. Salem, A.A., Lotfy, M., Amin, A., Ghattas, M.A.. Characterization of human serum albumin's interactions with safranal and crocin using multi-spectroscopic and molecular docking techniques. Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports. 2019, 20,100670. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrep.2019.100670
  4. Ghemrawi, R., Arnold, C., Battaglia-Hsu, S.-F., (...), Guéant, J.-L., Coelho, D. SIRT1 activation rescues the mislocalization of RNA-binding proteins and cognitive defects induced by inherited cobalamin disorders. Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental. 2019 101,153992. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2019.153992
  5. Al Rawashdah S, Hamrouni A, Sadek B, Amer R, Metwaly M, Atatreh N, Ghattas MA, Molecular modelling studies on alpha 7 nicotinic receptor allosteric modulators yields novel filter-based virtual screening protocol. Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling. 2019, 44-54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmgm.2019.07.001
  6. Atatreh N, Al Rawashdah S, Al Neyadi Sh, Abuhamdah S, Ghattas MA, Discovery of new butyrylcholinesterase inhibitors via structure-based virtual screening. Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry. July 2019, 1373-1379. https://doi.org/10.1080/14756366.2019.1644329
  7. Atatreh N, Youssef A, Ghattas MA, Al Sorkhy M, Al Rawashdah S, Al-Harbi Kh, El-Ashmawy I, Almundarij T, Abdelghani A, Abd-El-Aziz A, Anti-inflammatory drug approach: Synthesis and biological evaluation of novel pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine compounds. Bioorganic Chemistry. 2019, 86, 393-400. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bioorg.2019.02.014
  8. Atatreh N, Ghattas MA, Bardaweel SK, Al Rawashdah S, Al Sorkhy M. Identification of new inhibitors of Mdm2–p53 interaction via pharmacophore and structure-based virtual screening. Drug Design, Development and Therapy 2018, 12, 1-12. DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S182444
  9. Ben-Mahmoud, A., Ben-Salem, S., Al-Sorkhy, M., John, A., Ali, B.R. and Al-Gazali, L. A B3GALT6 variant in patient originally described as Al-Gazali syndrome and implicating the ER quality control in the mechanism of some β3GalT6-pathy mutations. Clin Genet. 2018 Feb 14. doi: 10.1111/cge.13236.
    Ghattas MA, Bryce RA, AlRawashdah S, Atatreh N, Zalloum WA. Comparative Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Aggregating and Non-Aggregating Inhibitor Solutions: Understanding the Molecular Basis of Promiscuity. ChemMedChem 2018, 13 (6), 500-506. https://doi.org/10.1002/cmdc.201700654
  10. AlNeyadi SS, Salem AA, Ghattas MAAtatreh N, Abdou IM. Antibacterial activity and mechanism of action of the benzazole acrylonitrile-based compounds: In vitro, spectroscopic, and docking studies. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 2017, 136, 270–282. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmech.2017.05.010
  11. Malki A, Elbayaa RY, Ali O, Sultan A, Youssef AM. Novel quinuclidinone derivatives induced apoptosis in human breast cancer via targeting p53. Bioorganic Chemistry 2017, 72: 57-63. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bioorg.2017.03.010
  12. Ghattas MA, Eissa NA, Bardaweel SK, Abu Mellal A, Atatreh N. Computer-aided discovery of antimicrobial agents as potential enoyl acyl carrier protein reductase inhibitors, Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 2017, 16 (2), 397-405. http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/tjpr.v16i2.19
  13. Hertecant J, Komara M, Nagi A, Al-Zaabi O, Fathallah W, Cui H, Yang Y, Eng CM, Al Sorkhy MGhattas MA, Al-Gazali L, Ali BR. A de novo mutation in the X-linked PAK3 gene is the underlying cause of intellectual disability and macrocephaly in monozygotic twins. European Journal of Medical Genetics 2017, 60 (4), 212-216. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmg.2017.01.004
  14. Basim A, Muhi-Eldeen ZA, Al-Kaissi E, Sauifan G, Ghattas MA, Arafat T, Al-Adham I. Design, synthesis and biological screening of aminoacetylenictetrahydrophthalimideanalogues as novel COX inhibitors. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2017, 9(2):160. DOI: 10.22159/ijpps.2017v9i2.15511
  15. Ghattas MA, Raslan N, Sadeq A, Al Sorkhy M, Atatreh N. Druggability analysis and classification of protein tyrosine phosphatase active sites. Drug Design, Development and Therapy 2016, 10:3197-3209. DOI 10.2147/DDDT.S111443
  16. Abduelkarem AR, Hamrouni AM. The choice of pharmacy profession as a career: UAE experience. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, 2016; 9(4); 1-7.
  17. Ghattas MA, Al Sorkhy M, Atatreh, N. In silico design of new MPS1 inhibitors via a validated structure-based virtual screening approach. Der Pharma Chemica, 8(2): 365-374, 2016.
  18. Al Sorkhy M.,Jalili E, Fillfield, B and LA Porter. Direct Interactions with both p27 and Cdk2 Regulate Spy1-Mediated Proliferation in vivo and in vitro. Cell cycle. 2016;15(1):128-36. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2015.1121327.
  19. Ghattas MA, Mansour RA, Atatreh N, Bryce RA. Analysis of enoyl acyl carrier protein reductase structure and interactions yield an efficient virtual screening approach and suggest a potential allosteric site. Chemical Biology and Drug Design. 87(1): 131–142, 2016. DOI: 10.1111/cbdd.12635
  20. Al-jomaily M, Arafat T, Al-kaissi EN, Ghattas MA, Muhi-eldeen ZA. Synthesis of 2-{[4-(t-amino-1-yl)but-2-ny-1-yl]oxy}-benzophenone derivatives as H3-antagonists. International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 7(6):174-179, 2015.
  21. Qinna NA, Shubbar MH, Matalka KZ, Al‐Jbour N, Ghattas MA, Badwan AA. Glucosamine Enhances Paracetamol Bioavailability by Reducing Its Metabolism. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 104:257–265, 2015. DOI: 10.1002/jps.24269
  22. Shkshak K, Afan A, Auzi A, Hamrouni AM. The Hypoglycemic Effect of Libyan truffle in Experimental Induced rates. Tripolitana Medical Journal. 2014; 3 (1) 1-4.
  23. Al-Rahmani R, Al-kaissi E, Arafat T, Ghattas M, Muhi-eldeen Z. Synthesis of 2-[{4-(t-amino-1-yl)but-2-yn-1-yl }oxy]-1,3-benzothiazole derivatives as H3-antagonists. IOSR Journal of Pharmacy. 2014; 4(9):40-49. DOI: 10.9790/3013-0409040049
  24. Ghattas MAAtatreh N, Bichenkova EV, Bryce RA. Protein tyrosine phosphatases: Ligand interaction analysis and optimisation of virtual screening. Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling. 2014; 52. 114-123. DOI:10.1016/j.jmgm.2014.06.011
  25. Sadek B, Hamrouni AM, Adam A. Anti-inflammatory agents of the carbamoylmethyl ester class: synthesis, characterization, and pharmacological evaluation. Journal of Inflammation Research 2013:6 1-9.
  26. Hamrouni AM, Musa F, Alatery A, Aburawi S, Alzatreny A, Auzi A. Phytochemical, Antioxidant, Antibacterial and Anti-Inflammatory Investigation of the Methanolic Extract of Amaranthus Tricolor Seed. Tripolitana Medical Journal. 2012; 1 (2), 94-99. DOI: 10.2147/JIR.S39743
  27. Malki A, Elbayaa RY, Ashour HMA, Loffredo CA, Youssef AM. Novel thiosemicarbazides induced apoptosis in human MCF-7 breast cancer cells via JNK signaling. Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry. Posted online on November 3 2014. DOI:10.3109/14756366.2014.971781
  28. Sadek B, Khanian S, Ashoor A, Prytkova T, Ghattas MAAtatreh N, Nurulain SM, Yang KS, Howarth FC, Oz M. Effects of antihistamines on the function of Human α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2015; 746: 308–316. DOI:10.1016/j.ejphar.2014.10.046