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Praziquantel was discovered 40 years ago and remains the only available treatment for schistosomiasis, a disease that affects 240 million people globally. Through WIPO Re:Search, investigators from Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the NIAID-funded Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease (SSGCID) are working to solve the crystal structure for Schistosoma HMG-CoA reductase (SmHMGR), a promising drug target. To support these efforts, MSD* scientists developed and shared codon-optimized SmHMGR gene constructs for expressing the SmHMGR protein and solving its crystal structure. With a crystal structure, Dr. Conor Caffrey at the University of California, San Diego plans to carry out rational drug design and optimization of SmHMGR inhibitors.
*MSD is a trademark of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA
Buruli ulcer, a bacterial disease found mostly in Central and West Africa, destroys skin and soft tissue, resulting in large necrotic ulcers. Primarily affecting children, the disease causes significant long-term functional disability and permanent deformity unless diagnosed and treated early. In addition to requiring frequent visits to health clinics over a period of several weeks — which is not always practical in remote areas — current medicines can also cause severe side effects such as hearing loss. Professor Fabrice Boyom at University of Yaoundé I aims to develop a safer Buruli ulcer drug that can be
administered over a shorter time frame. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is sharing its Mini Library with Professor Boyom for his Buruli ulcer drug discovery program.
Chagas disease, human African trypanosomiasis, and leishmaniasis are neglected tropical diseases that collectively affect millions of people worldwide. Improved treatments for all three diseases are greatly needed. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will provide GRIDD investigator Dr. Vicky Avery with its Mini Library to screen for Chagas disease, human African trypanosomiasis, and leishmaniasis drug discovery.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s Mini Library is a collection of drug-like former Biopharma research and development compounds and their derivatives. The compounds cover a wide range of molecular targets, including enzymes, hormone and neurotransmitter receptors, transporters, and ion channels.
Johnson & Johnson will be sharing a phenotypic screening library with Dr. Lawal Bilbis at UDUS for screening for antimalarial drug discovery.
Parasitic worms cause substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide, and a heavy reliance on anti-parasitic treatments has led to drug resistance, with no effective vaccine available for most parasites. In order to address this high priority gap, the team of Professor Robin Gasser at the University of Melbourne has developed a high throughput whole-organism assay for anthelmintic drug discovery. Johnson & Johnson will provide its Jump-stARter library for screening in the assay.
Dr. Chiaka Anumudu at University of Ibadan previously identified 54 human proteins as potential biomarkers for schistosomiasis and bladder pathologies. Through WIPO Re:Search, Dr. Anumudu shared 60 urine samples with Dr. Horacio Bach at the University of British Columbia to support biomarker identification and validation. Upon identification of the biomarker(s), recombinant antibodies will be generated in Dr. Bach’s laboratory to develop a serological test for fast diagnosis.