Europe joins forces to fight against neglected parasitic diseases
March 3, 2014
The international consortium A-PARADDISE (Anti-Parasitic Drug Discovery in Epigenetics), coordinated by Inserm, has obtained funding of 6 million euros from the European Commission to test large-scale innovative treatments against four parasitic neglected diseases : schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and malaria. Researchers have the common goal of developing new treatments against parasites responsible for these diseases. The project brings together 10 European partners, five Brazilian (from the region where the disease is endemic) and two Australians. The IGBMC welcomes all partners on 17 and 18 March to launch the project.
Schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and malaria are considered as neglected diseases because the effort and investment made to develop new methods of treatment and control were incommensurate with the disastrous impact they have on the populations concerned. They affect people in developing countries, mainly in Africa, Middle East, South America and East Asia, in tropical and subtropical areas. About one billion people are regularly exposed and nearly one million people die from the consequences of these diseases each year.
Currently, there is still no vaccine available to protect against these parasites. Moreover, existing therapies are limited, either by their side effects, or by the current or potential development of resistance. Therefore, the consortium A-PARADDISE coordinated by Inserm and driven by Raymond Pierce, director of research at the Center for Infection and Immunity of Lille, focuses on the search for new drugs against these parasites.
A-PARADDISE project is based on the methodology approved in a previous project of similar size (SEtTReND) to develop drugs against schistosomiasis. Researchers have got interested in histone modifying enzymes (HME) - histones, which are responsible for the structure of the parasite’s chromosomes. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that inhibitors of various HME induce cell death, which makes them toxic for the parasite. This work has provided proof of concept of the action of these enzymes (HME) on the parasite and allowed the creation of a bank of candidate compounds that can now quickly be tested against other human parasites.
With the new A-PARADDISE project, researchers will be able to use the basic principle and extend it by creating a unique platform for testing antiparasitic drugs targeting the HME, in order to integrate them into clinical development. The experimental method consists in testing physically and virtually the efficacy and toxicity of the components in vitro and in vivo.
The ultimate goal of A-PARADDISE project is to provide a number of candidate treatments to fight against these four parasites and enable future clinical trials.
To accomplish this work, the project participants have been selected for their high level of expertise in their respective fields: high-throughput screening, computer screen, production of recombinant protein, high-throughput sequencing, phenotypic tests, toxicology and pharmacology.