Malaria is caused by a protozoan parasite that undergoes a complex replication and differentiation process when cycling between its human and mosquito host. Its complex biology has hampered the development of targeted therapies. A handful of antimalarials is available, but resistance to these molecules is an emerging problem in large parts of the world. This project aims at generating antimalarial compounds with novel mechanisms of action. First, we will optimize an exciting new class of compounds that target parasite pantothenate-coenzyme A metabolism. This will provide insight in stage-specific dependency on metabolic pathways of malaria parasites and reveal new pharmacophores for targeting enzymes in CoA metabolism. Second, we will perform an unprecedented screen for novel compounds that target malaria transmission stages using our recently developed quantitative assays for Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes. Targeting transmission is essential in malaria elimination strategies and has received virtually no attention over the past decades in malaria drug discovery. The current project aims at generating starting points for drug discovery and development in this era.

Fast facts:
Project title: Accelerating the development of novel antimalarials
Short project title: Novel antimalarials
Principal Investigator: Dr. Koen Dechering
Partners: TropIQ, PanSynt, Pivot Park Screening Centre, RUNMC
Budget: 605 kEUR
Start: 1 January 2013
End: 30 June 2014

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