Northeastern University, USA and CSIC, Spain

Start : December 2011 | Status : Complete

The scientists: Rosario Diaz, PhD, a research associate working in a team led by Dr Miguel Navarro (IPBLN-CSIC), performed the high throughput screening (HTS) and follow-up biological assays for the program. Two chemists, Joao Sexias, PhD and Sandra Luengo, PhD, worked alongside GSK medicinal chemists to perform hit validation and follow-up medicinal chemistry, with the efforts driven by Professor Michael Pollastri (Northeastern University Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology.)

The sponsor: Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a global, experiential, research university located in Boston. Northeastern is the recognised leader in experiential learning, anchored in the world’s largest and most innovative cooperative-education programme. The Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine "López-Neyra" (IPBLN) belongs to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Since its foundation more than fifty years ago as the National Institute of Parasitology, the IPBLN houses a significant number of laboratories studying various aspects of molecular parasitology with a high capacity to work in collaboration. The objectives of the research activity include the identification of new protein targets for drug development and new molecular tools for the treatment of infectious diseases.

Foundation funding: The Foundation provided £143,295 in support.

GlaxoSmithKline’s contribution: GSK is providing in-kind contributions (including facilities and expertise from supporting scientists for HTS and GSK collection of compounds).

Project Description: The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei is an insect-borne pathogen that causes human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), which is commonly referred to as African sleeping sickness one of the world’s neglected tropical diseases, found in sub-Saharan Africa.  The main problem the researchers tried to address is the lack of safe and effective treatments against this disease. A collaboration between investigators at Northeastern University in Boston and at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine of the Spanish National Research Council (IPBLN-CSIC) in Granada identified a potent inhibitor of parasite growth among established classes of inhibitors of human kinase enzymes. Inspired by this initial success, Joao, Rosario and Sandra assessed more than 30,000 compounds in the GSK chemical library for their ability to suppress the spread of the harmful parasite that penetrates the central nervous system, where T. brucei, thepathogen which causes this potentially lethal disease, resides.

This research would have taken much more time without access to GSK’s resources and expertise in miniaturisation technology which is fundamental to boost research in the diseases of the developing world.” (Rosario Diaz, Open Lab scientist)