Funding awarded to help researchers find a potential cure for malaria

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RESEARCHERS have been awarded funding to identify compounds that could help create a single-dose treatment for malaria.

The University of Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit (DDU), will utilise  funding to support the development of a compound series that stops an enzyme involved in protein synthesis.

The University of Dundee was awarded £2.4 million for this research by the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund.

 - Research News Scotland
Photo by Ousa Chea on Unsplash. A team of Researchers have been awarded millions of pounds to help with their research for a malaria cure.

The research team is led by Professor Ian GilbertProfessor Kevin Read, and Dr Beatriz Baragaña.

They have been working in partnership with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), on a way to kill the malaria parasite by stopping it from making its own proteins.

The team will also partner with Eisai Co Ltd. (Eisai), a research-based pharmaceutical company.

University of Dundee School of Life Sciences -Research News Scotland
The University of Dundee’s School of life Sciences is where the DDU is located and is where the research will take place.

Professor Ian Gilbert, one of the members of this research team, said: “We are very grateful for the funding from the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund to allow us to further progress this series of compounds.

“This work will continue to be carried out in collaboration with MMV.

“We are also very pleased to partner with Eisai, with their huge experience of developing new medicines, which will greatly facilitate the development of this compound series.”

Malaria remains a major threat to life and is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.

Mosquito - Research News Scotland
Photo by ???? ??????? on Unsplash. Malaria is transmitted through infected mosquitos.

In 2019, the World Health Organisation estimated that there were 229 million cases of malaria worldwide, resulting in more than 400,000 deaths.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the disease, accounting for 67% of all deaths worldwide.

The DDU is recognised as a leading centre in malaria treatment research and has twice won MMV’s Project of the Year award for its research into new drugs to combat the parasite.

Professor Kevin Read, said: “There is an urgent need for the development of new medicines to treat this terrible disease, due to the parasites that cause malaria becoming resistant to current drugs.

“There is also a need for new medicines to prevent people developing malaria in the first place and to prevent the spread of this disease.”

The initial focus of this latest programme will be focused on identifying a compound that has the potential for the treatment of malaria with a single dose.

This will be followed by experiments to determine if the compound has suitable properties for further development.

Dr Baragaña, said: “We have had a very fruitful collaboration with MMV over many years and we are very excited to be collaborating with Eisai, with their expertise in developing new medicines.”

Medicine - Research News Scotland
Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash. The University and Eisai are trying to find a single dose treatment for the malaria virus.

Dr Jeremy Burrows, MMV’s Head of Drug Discovery added: “This award to Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit is extremely well deserved.

“The team have spearheaded several cutting-edge malaria research projects, this one included.”

“This project draws on structure-based drug design enabling us to optimize the potency and selectivity of the compounds.

“The grant will help us further this work aimed at ultimately identifying a promising candidate for further development.”