Durham-FAPESP SPRINT colleagues

Seeing further: A Brazil-UK collaboration to shine light on the mysteries of parasite cell membranes

“If I have seen further, it has been through standing on the shoulders of giants” (John of Salisbury, 1159).
NTD Network partners and colleagues from Durham, UK and universities from across Sao Paulo state in Brazil gathered this week at Durham University to launch an inter-institutional sister collaboration, investigating transmembrane proteins from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and other infectious agents.  The FAPESP-SPRINT initiative project is a joint venture between the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Brazil’s Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP).  Membrane proteins hold huge potential as drug targets, yet are poorly understood, this ‘invisibility’ due to the technical challenges of working with these often insoluble proteins.  This collaboration, between Durham University, the University of São Paulo (USP) and the Brazilian Biosciences National Laboratory (LNBio), combines the cross-disciplinary expertise from all three institutions.  The team plan to develop a suite of tools for characterising the membranes of living cells, equipping us to ‘see further’ in our search for new drug targets for Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and other NTDs.


The NTD Network in Argentina: Our team at CONICET

Today the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) in Argentina published an interview with Professor Claudio Pereira on the NTD Network and the role of our Network partners amongst its membership.  The Network project is seeking novel drug targets towards solutions for two neglected tropical diseases, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis, alongside forging new industrial collaborations and training early career researchers in the specialist skills needed for this vital work.
Claudio, based at the Instituto de Investigaciones Medicas Alfredo Lanari in Buenos Aires (IDIM, CONICET-BA) is scoping the druggable potential of proteins involved cross-membrane transport of metabolites in Trypanosoma cruzi (causing Chagas disease).  Read the interview on the work of Claudio and his team, here.
Our other partners are Professor Julia Cricco at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario (IBR, CONICET-UNR), investigating components of heme uptake and biosynthesis, and Professor Guillermo Labadie at the Rosario Institute of Chemistry (IQUIR, CONICET-UNR), investigating naturally-sourced compounds for their potential as novel anti-parasitic drugs. 
Guilllermo is co-organising an upcoming Network training workshop in skills for drug discovery, at Mendoza City, Argentina, 2-4 November 2019; bursaries are available to support students to attend.  Workshop information is available via our events page.