In early drug discovery, you need a starting point, says Northeastern University associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology Michael Pollastri.
In a new research paper published Thursday in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Pollastri and his colleagues present hundreds of such starting points for potentially treating African sleeping sickness, a deadly disease that claims thousands of lives annually.
Pollastri, who runs Northeastern's Laboratory for Neglected Disease Drug Discovery, and co- collaborators at the Spanish National Research Council for Scientific Research worked with global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline to screen and test more than 42,000 chemical compounds against the parasites that cause African sleeping sickness. In their paper, they report identifying nearly 800 compounds that represent good options for early drug discovery.
"Having this many good starting points for discovery of new drugs for sleeping sickness is a big deal and could ultimately lead to a cure," Pollastri said.
Pollastri also highlighted another exciting component to this project. Previously, he created a data- sharing portal where scientists and researchers can access and contribute to each other's work on neglected tropical diseases. This new research on African sleeping sickness will be the first data to be deposited on the portal, which was supported by a crowdfunding campaign.
"This is a venue where other people, particularly medical chemists from around the world, can contribute to the project in one way or the other," Pollastri said.