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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.

Investigators at the University of Melbourne and Monash University identified compounds that inhibit the barber’s pole worm, and were interested in screening them against other infectious worms. BVGH connected them with an investigator at University of Buea, who is developing inhibitors against Onchocerca. The University of Buea will screen the University of Melbourne compounds against Onchocerca volvulus to identify potential drug candidates.

During her fellowship at the University of Melbourne with the host scientists Leanne Tilley and Matthew Dixon, Tahmina Ahmed from the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh (iccdr,b) investigated the antimalarial activity of two novel antimalarial compounds inhibitors. The compounds have been shown to have activity against enzymes that activate ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins. Ms. Ahmed measured the anti-malarial activities of these drugs. This project investigated two drug candidates. Compound 1 proved more potent than chloroquine (IC50 59 nM) and artemisinin (IC50 4 nM). Antimalarial drugs that inhibit apicoplast biogenesis exhibit a delayed death mechanism of killing, however, both compounds 1 and 2 kill parasites rapidly.