Chemistry Research Addresses Deadly Disease
Dr. Scott Schaus (Associate Professor, Chemistry and School of Medicine pharmacology) and Dr. Lauren Brown (Research Professor) were named among the first eight winners of the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Discovery Fast Track Challenge program. GSK’s competition aims to translate academic starting points for new potential medicines. The initial contest attracted 142 entries across 17 therapeutic areas from 70 institutions.
Schaus and Brown, and their collaborators, James McKerrow (University of California, San Francisco) and Jair Lage de Siqueira-Neto (Center for Discovery and Innovation in Parasitic Diseases), have developed a process that GSK believes might yield better drugs against leishmaniasis, a sand fly–borne illness afflicting 12 million people worldwide, with 2 million new cases reported each year. Seventy-five percent of those afflicted have disfiguring skin lesions that scar for life, requiring painful, burning injections or IV infusions to cure. In the remaining cases, the disease affects internal organs (liver, spleen, and bone marrow) and is lethal if untreated. Existing drug treatments, in addition to being painful, are either expensive or potentially toxic, requiring a doctor’s monitoring during use.
The team identified compounds, developed at BU’s Center for Molecular Discovery, that are effective against 2 of the 15 species of the leishmania parasite and may be be available for clinical trials within 5 years.
For the BU Today article, “BU Researchers Work against Deadly, Disfiguring Disease: Pharmaceutical giant GSK chooses team in its new competition” (Rich Barlow, 11/07/2013), click here.