Miss Sanaz Baheran

Research project: Synthesis and characterisation of novel chalcones for the potential treatment of pterygium


Pterygium is a pink, triangular tissue growth that covers the sclera over the cornea of the eye and causes redness, blurred vision, and eye irritation. Pterygium is a complex disease as the cause and pathology are still yet unknown, studies have shown that chronic ultraviolet exposure is linked to the root of developing pterygium. Patients with pterygium show high levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) compared to a healthy conjunctiva, hence the disease works similarly to angiogenesis.  

Unfortunately, the treatment of pterygium is limited, and the only way forward is surgical removal; However, the recurrence rate is 80%. Additionally, patients are given topical steroids to treat their symptoms, but there is a high risk of developing glaucoma.

Alternatively, chalcones are bright coloured compounds that are isolated from naturally occurring plants and evidentially present anti-VEGF properties, therefore, could potentially help treat pterygium. The current aim of this research is to synthesise novel chalcones, and screen them to identify the best anti-VEGF activity, which will then be incorporated into a topical formulation. Therefore, it would be a more suitable alternative to treat pterygium as it would decrease recurrence rate, inexpensive and longer shelf-life.


I graduated with a first class degree from Kingston university in 2018 with a BSc in pharmaceutical science. Along with my studies I spent 5 years in the property industry selling and exchanging properties in Brighton. After my BSc I didn't just want to stop there so I jumped straight into a PhD in 2018 as I found my passion and motivation for research throughout my project research. 

Areas of research interest

  • Ocular drug delivery
  • Synthetic organic chemistry
  • Formulations
  • Natural product chemistry
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Biological assay
  • Analytical chemistry


  • Bsc Pharmaceutical Science, Kingston University

Funding or awards received

  • RSC Symposium: Fluorochem Poster Prize in Synthetic Chemistry