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 14 articles.
Three of these papers are co-authored by our own Network researchers, although all 14 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.
Leading this collection is a review, co-authored by NTD Network Fellow Dr Kalesh Karunakaran (Durham University, UK) and Dr Anutthaman Parthasarathy (Rochester Institute of Technology, USA).
In this piece, Kalesh and Parthasarathy explain how their approach, involving 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 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. Please check the collection’s homepage at RSC Medicinal Chemistry regularly for future updates.