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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.

A researcher from Griffith University will perform activity-guided fractionation on natural product extracts previously demonstrated by a University of Ibadan researcher to have activity against S. mansoni and S. haematobium or their intermediate snail hosts.

The fellowship of Mohammad Shafiul Alam from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) with the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD), Australia and the host scientists Katherine Andrews and Vicky Avery provided opportunity to learn a range of drug discovery skills such as extraction and further purification of natural products, 3H-hypoxanthine uptake assays, cytotoxicity assay and phytochemical analysis. A total of 33 biota samples were obtained from the nature bank at GRIDD and screened for anti-plasmodial activity against reference strain of P. falciparum using a 72 hours isotopic micro test (3H-hypoxanthine uptake assays). After initial screening, 19 biota samples which had 50% inhibition in 10 mg/ml concentration were further investigated for selectivity index (cytotoxicity assay with Hek 293).

AstraZeneca scientists were interested in screening natural products for activity against M. tuberculosis. BVGH connected AstraZeneca with Dr. Quinn, who provided AstraZeneca with the GRIDD Nature Bank Fraction Library for their screening assays.

Dr. Keiser is the Head of the Helminth Drug Development Unit at Swiss TPH. Dr. Keiser’s research is focused on drug discovery for helminth infections, and she evaluates compounds using both in vitro and in vivo assays. BVGH connected Dr. Keiser with Dr. Quinn, Director of the Eskitis Institute, who facilitated the sharing of a targeted selection of Nature Bank isolates for Dr. Keiser to screen against Schistosoma and Ancylostoma (hookworm).