London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine-LSHTM

Start : March 2013 | Status : Complete

The scientists: This project is led by Dr Rosario Díaz who has recently been joined by a second researcher, Dr Fernando Aguilar. The project focuses on drug discovery for leishmaniasis and is titled “Assay development of in vitro rates of death of intra-cellular Leishmania and Trypanosoma cruzi ” which aims to determine the replication rate of the intracellular forms of both of these parasites. This intracellular division rate is still undetermined but an understanding is essential when trying to establish a compound’s effect over time. Creating a detailed compound profile is the basis for progress in drug discovery.

The sponsor: The collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is led by Principal Investigators Professor Simon Croft and Dr Vanessa Yardley. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public and global health.  Its mission is to improve health and health equity worldwide; working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice.

Foundation funding: The Foundation is providing £189,683 in support.

GSK’s contribution: GlaxoSmithKline is providing in-kind contributions (including facilities and expertise from supporting scientists for HTS and GSK collection of compounds).

Project Description: Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease found in four continents, is the third most common cause of death caused by parasites in developing countries. Leishmaniasis has different clinical symptoms, and the visceral form, also known as kala-azar, is lethal if left untreated. Most existing treatments are expensive, with known toxicities and variable efficacy. There is increased resistance to these treatments for leishmaniasis. With research currently focused on developing an effective drug against these parasites, more compound profiling is required to characterise a fast-killing or time-dependent compound to help successful drug progression. At the Open Lab, the visiting scientists will seek to develop and validate an assay to measure the replication rate for intracellular parasites using fluorescent and qPCR methods.

The collaboration with GSK is fundamental to my research, since their experience and know-how of the most modern and latest techniques and equipment will help us to develop the best assay. The equipment and facilities at Tres Cantos are simply not affordable for the academic community, and their support for our project is a boost to help us achieve our goals”. (Rosario Díaz, Open Lab scientist)