Have we had effective anti-malarial drugs all along?

Have we had effective anti-malarial drugs all along?

Jan 01, 2019 / By : / Category : 老域名购买

To an extent, there are two schools of thought about how to go about screening for a new drug. One could be called the "Intelligent Design" method: choose a target, study its structure and biochemistry, and then design a drug that specifically interferes with it. In this case, much of the work goes into understanding the system. The second, called "High Throughput Screening," takes a more evolutionary approach. All you need in this case is a test tube version of the process you want to affect. You search for drugs simply by dumping every chemical you can get your hands on into the test tube and looking for those that inhibit the process. Once an effective compound is identified, variations of it are synthesized and tested in turn. 老域名出售

Although less targeted, high throughput screening has some advantages. You don't need a complete understanding of the process you're trying to alter in order to test compounds, meaning it will work with complex and poorly understood disease targets. Malaria ranks pretty high up on the scale of complex and poorly understood diseases, and a reader was kind enough to point me to an article that describes a screen of compounds for the ability to inhibit the growth of drug resistant strains of the malarial parasite. The technique also took advantage of a different aspect of high throughput screening: the majority of the drugs they tested have already been approved by the FDA, meaning they've passed rigorous safety screening, and would be relatively inexpensive to bring to market for a new use.

Nearly 200 drugs were identified that reduced parasite cell division by over 50 percent. The authors focused in on an antihistamine called astemizole, which can be ingested orally. Testing in mice showed that it knocked down the load of the malarial parasite by about 80 percent. The drug itself is no longer on the market in most of the developed world, since alternatives with fewer side effects are available. As the patent on the compound has expired, however, it is being sold in over-the-counter form in the developing world. The authors also note that, as a successful drug, hundreds of variants on it have already been synthesized, and may be worth testing for enhanced anti-malarial activity.

The work was done at Johns Hopkins, and there's an interesting coda in the final paragraph that shows that this promising work may not be the last high throughput screen to use this panel of drugs:

Currently, the JHCCL is undergoing expansion to include every available drug ever used in the clinic via phase 2 clinical trials or approval by the FDA or its foreign counterparts. When complete, the JHCCL will be available to any researcher interested in screening for existing drugs that may be useful as economically viable new therapies for diseases of the developing world.

Hopefully, this won't be the last time we report on screens using this panel of drugs.

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