DALLAS June 7, 2011 The discovery of a potential new anti-malarial drug by a UT Southwestern Medical Center-led research team has been awarded Project of the Year by Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).
The team's research, which began in 2002 under the direction of Dr. Margaret Phillips, identified a promising inhibitor of a specific enzyme that the malaria parasite requires for survival. The lead compound, uncovered during high-throughput tests at the UT Southwestern core screening laboratory and now in preclinical trials, could be ready for human studies next year.
"The problem is staying ahead of the parasite's continuing ability to develop drug resistance. If we don't discover new drugs, the parasite is going to win," said Dr. Phillips, professor of pharmacology at UT Southwestern and project leader for the drug development team that includes researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle; Monash University in Melbourne, Australia; and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
Each year, malaria kills 1 million to 2 million people, most of them women and children. The mosquito-transmitted disease is prevalent in Africa, South America and Asia, but virtually nonexistent in the U.S. No vaccine prevents malaria, although drugs are available to treat the infectious disease.
"If this drug succeeds, it could very well revolutionize the way malaria is treated," said Dr. David Mangelsdorf, chairman of pharmacology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern.
Of 26 projects that span the drug development pipeline from early-phase discovery work to compounds in clinical development, MMV chose the work of Dr. Phillips' team for Project of the Year based on its progress toward discovering a new anti-malarial drug.
MMV is a not-for-profit public/private partnership based in Geneva whose mission is to develop and bring affordable anti-malarial drugs to market. Researchers submit prop
|Contact: Debbie Bolles|
UT Southwestern Medical Center