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Schistosomiasis affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, mostly in the world’s poorest countries. Praziquantel (PZQ) is the only medication currently used in mass drug administration programs, raising the risk of drug resistance. There is a critical need to develop new therapeutics that target essential pathways that are not affected by PZQ. Prof. Fabrice Boyom at the University of Yaoundé I is interested in leveraging the therapeutic properties of local plants and other natural products to treat parasitic diseases. With support from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Dr. Jennifer Keiser at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute will screen selected natural product extracts collected by Prof. Boyom for antischistosomal activity.
Severe dengue, known as dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, is a leading cause of hospitalization and death in Asia and Latin America. There is no specific treatment for the disease. Dr. Tedjo Sasmono at the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology will screen the Open Global Health Library of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to identify compounds that target pathways that are disrupted in severe dengue.
The only effective treatments for snakebite envenoming are antivenoms, medications made from antibodies against the components of venom. However, antivenoms are expensive to manufacture, and different antivenoms are required to treat the bites of different snake species. Prof. Nicholas Casewell at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine aims to develop less costly, small-molecule therapies that inhibit toxins in venom. He will screen the Open Global Health Library of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to identify compounds that block the activity of such toxic enzymes.