This May saw the launch of a new themed collection of articles from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal, RSC Medicinal Chemistry, bringing together scientific breakthroughs and incisive insights from global experts seeking new routes to therapeutic solutions for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This themed collection, entitled “Neglected Tropical Diseases” and edited by NTD Network members Dr Charles Mowbray (DNDi), Professor Nahid Ali (IICB Kolkata) and Dr Steven Cobb (Durham University), currently includes 15 articles. Read their editorial introduction to this collection here.
Three of these papers are co-authored by our own Network researchers, although all of them highlight, by example, our vital need for cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional approaches and long-term collaborations in order to make new progress against the old challenge of NTDs, which together threaten the lives of over a billion people worldwide. The first of the research papers is a review co-authored by one of our NTD Network Fellows, Dr. Kalesh Karunakaran (Durham University, UK).
Kalesh, along with collaborator Dr. Anutthaman Parthasarathy (Rochester Institute of Technology, USA) have produced this though-provoking article, which explains how their approach, applying proteomics techniques in new ways to the study of the infectious agents causing leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), may lead to breakthrough insights for developing new treatments against these NTDs.
Leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and human African trypanosomiasis are caused respectively by Leishmania spp., Trypanosoma cruzi and T. brucei; three species of protozoan trypanosome parasites known collectively as the ‘Tritryps’. In this article, Parthasarathy and Kalesh explain how the superfine sensitivity of modern mass spectrometry is now enabling them to study transient molecular modifications of crucial proteins in the parasites’ cells, which modify and control vital cellular processes. These same techniques can also be applied to study how these parasites respond to pharmaceutical treatments, providing a means to study the in-parasite actions of these compounds. Such ‘mode of action’ studies are an essential stage in drug development, enabling progress towards developing targeted, parasite-specific drug treatments.
The publications list also includes new findings from two of our NTD Network leading researchers.
From Professor Carlos Robello’s lab, a study of sensitivity to amphotericin B in Leishmania parasites from domestic dogs:
The “Neglected Tropical Diseases” collection currently includes a range of articles presenting new research data across the Tritryps, along with schistosomiasis and dengue fever. But with NTDs, the task is huge and ongoing. With this in mind, the editors will be adding new publications to this collection as they arise, thereby growing an archive of specialist insights into the biology and chemistry of these diseases, and novel approaches in how to study them.
The current spectrum of articles on NTDs in this themed collection is however only the beginning. The list will grow as additional publications become available; please check the homepage at RSC Medicinal Chemistry regularly for future updates!