$5 million in funding for research into malaria and tuberculosis drug discovery

December 16, 2015

University of Toronto and McGill University scientists are leading an international partnership to discover new and improved drug treatments for tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases -- thanks to a contribution from Merck Canada Inc., as well as an additional $5 million supplement to a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The new funding brings the total investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to nearly US $12 million since 2012.

"By taking advantage of complementary expertise, the University of Toronto and McGill University have a wonderful opportunity to play a leadership role on the global stage" said Dr. Aled Edwards, Director of the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), and a professor at the University of Toronto. "Our new partnership builds on Ontario's investment into structural genomics and drug discovery in the SGC at the University of Toronto, as well as on McGill's long-standing leadership in parasitology, investments by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) into several laboratories in the United States, and the tremendous skills of our many colleagues from all over the world."

SGC, a University of Toronto affiliated group of researchers, currently leads an international coalition of scientists attempting to find new treatments for malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases that cause widespread disability and death in resource poor countries. In 2012, an initial $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped the Toronto team to bring together experts from academia and the pharmaceutical industry to create the Structure-Guided Drug Discovery Coalition (SDDC), an international partnership founded and coordinated by the SGC. An additional $2 million was added to the grant in 2014 to include diseases caused by parasitic worms and cryptosporidiosis. Cryptosporidiosis, caused by a microscopic protozoan, is the world's third most common cause of diarrhea, which kills hundreds of thousands of young children each year. The 2015 $5 million supplement from the Gates Foundation extends the research support for SDDC in the areas of tuberculosis, malaria and cryptosporidiosis.

The SDDC takes a unique approach to the search for new medications. Its researchers use cutting-edge tools such as crystallography to understand an enzyme's atomic structure, and to design more potent drug-like molecules.

"Bringing together structural genomics and target-based medicinal chemistry with the strong parasitology expertise at McGill University is a powerful combination that puts us in a great position to contribute to the discovery of new medications for important global health issues", said Chris Walpole, who leads the SDDC from McGill University.

Among its successes so far, the SDDC has discovered a series of compounds that act on a novel tuberculosis protein target. A representative analogue has excellent activity in an in vivo model of tuberculosis. The project is being carried forward with international collaborators and a compound could enter clinical trials within three years - an example of the speed at which drugs can be developed when broad coalitions of academic and industry partners work together. The coalition has also developed a series of antimalarial compounds that has reached the animal-testing stage as well as anti-cryptosporidium compounds that, in just five months, have shown efficacy and reached animal-testing.
-end-
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Heidi Singer
Communications and Media Relations Specialist, U of T Medicine
Heidi.Singer@utoronto.ca
416-978-5811

Jason Clement
Communications Officer / Agent de communications
jason.clement@mcgill.ca
514-398-5909
Faculty of Medicine / Faculté de médecine
McGill University / Université McGill

University of Toronto

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 UmeƄ 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.