Monday, November 10, 2014

Researchers identify compounds that could lead to discovery of new drugs for African sleeping sickness

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.

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