LSTM and UoL secure £1.4M ($2M) to develop new 'magic bullet' anti-malarial drug

February 24, 2009

The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and the University of Liverpool (UoL) have secured a £1.4 million project grant to begin the development of new drugs to combat malaria.

The project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, aims to develop new antimalarial drug candidates which work by targeting a novel enzyme in the respiratory chain of Plasmodium falciparum - the parasite that causes malaria.

The enzyme within the parasite is not found in humans, thereby fulfilling the most important prerequisite of a target for a 'magic bullet' - a drug capable of targeting an organism without affecting its host.

Having identified this enzyme, project PI Professor Steve Ward (LSTM), Professor Paul O'Neill (UoL) and Dr Giancarlo Biagini (LSTM) are now assembling a team of biochemists, pharmacologists, medicinal chemists and computational chemists to design new compounds that will successfully inhibit its operation. Drug candidates from this stage of the project will be put forward for further pre-clinical development.

Professor Steve Ward explained: "New drugs to treat malaria are urgently required because the parasite has evolved to develop resistance to traditional drugs and consequently more people die from malaria now than they did twenty years ago. This project is seeking to develop a drug which works differently.

"Our initial research indicates that if we can knock out this enzyme in the parasite we can stop the disease progressing through its usual stages within the body thereby eliminating the clinical symptoms of malaria and reducing the possibility of transmission to other people through mosquito bites."

Professor Paul O'Neill added: "This exciting project will further strengthen links between the University's Chemistry department and LSTM. In addition to the synthesis of inhibitors, a team of molecular modellers, led by Dr N Berry (UoL), will use various computational techniques such as virtual screening to facilitate and inform the discovery process.

"This approach will provide a platform for future activities in this area of medicinal chemistry."
-end-


Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Related Malaria Articles from Brightsurf:

Clocking in with malaria parasites
Discovery of a malaria parasite's internal clock could lead to new treatment strategies.

Breakthrough in malaria research
An international scientific consortium led by the cell biologists Volker Heussler from the University of Bern and Oliver Billker from the Umeå University in Sweden has for the first time systematically investigated the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium throughout its life cycle in a large-scale experiment.

Scientists close in on malaria vaccine
Scientists have taken another big step forward towards developing a vaccine that's effective against the most severe forms of malaria.

New tool in fight against malaria
Modifying a class of molecules originally developed to treat the skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new malaria drug that is effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs.

Malaria expert warns of need for malaria drug to treat severe cases in US
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.

Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.

Getting to zero malaria cases in zanzibar
New research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.

Widely used malaria treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women
A global team of researchers, led by a research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), are calling for a review of drug-based strategies used to prevent malaria infections in pregnant women, in areas where there is widespread resistance to existing antimalarial medicines.

Protection against Malaria: A matter of balance
A balanced production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines at two years of age protects against clinical malaria in early childhood, according to a study led by ISGlobal, an institution supported by ''la Caixa'' Foundation.

The math of malaria
A new mathematical model for malaria shows how competition between parasite strains within a human host reduces the odds of drug resistance developing in a high-transmission setting.

Read More: Malaria News and Malaria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.