The scientist: Raquel Alvarez Velilla is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center and University of León, working under the supervision of Prof. Rosa Reguera and Prof. Manuel Fresno. She is a molecular and cellular biologist by training with experience in Leishmania infection. Her primary role in this project will be to study two different intracellular screening approaches against Leishmania.
Foundation funding: The Foundation is providing £220,510 in support
GSK’s contribution: GSK will provide compounds for their evaluation as anti-Leishmanials in addition to its extensive experience in phenotypic-based screening programs for Visceral Leishmaniasis [Scientific Reports (2015) doi:10.1038/srep08771; Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. (2016) doi:10.1128/AAC.01781-15].
Project Description: The approach will compare two in vitro assays based on Leishmania intracellular infections in established cell lines vs primary cultures (spleen explants). A high throughput platform will be accessed as part of the first approach, while 3D-primary cultures containing the elements responsible for the immune response will be used in the second approach. Previous methodologies for screening small molecules, while effective, have partly overlooked the important role of the immune system in the identification of compounds against Leishmania infection. The project aims to capture the potential host contribution in an assay that could help identify novel leads for the treatment of Leishmania.