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publicado em 24/05/2013 às 14h50:00
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Unicamp partnership firm in drug research for neglected diseases

NGOs linked to WHO want to develop new drugs for malaria and Chagas disease with low cost

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Foto: Dario Crispim/Unicamp
Foto: Antoninho Perri/Unicamp
Bordering the city of Eirunepé (AM): of 423,000 registered cases of malaria reported in the country on average, 99.7% occurred in the Amazon region Professor Luiz Carlos Dias (to dir.) And postdocs Pablo Martinez and Susann Krake
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Bordering the city of Eirunepé (AM): of 423,000 registered cases of malaria reported in the country on average, 99.7% occurred in the Amazon region
Professor Luiz Carlos Dias (to dir.) And postdocs Pablo Martinez and Susann Krake

Brazil recorded between 2000 and 2011, an average of 423 000 cases of malaria each year, according to the Ministry of Health Of these, 99.7% occurred in the Amazon region. Worldwide, the disease itself in poor or developing countries, causes 800,000 deaths annually. Although there is treatment for the disease, the science is still looking for drugs that may eventually eradicate it. This effort involves a worldwide network, integrated by the Laboratory of Synthetic Organic Chemistry (LQOS) Institute of Chemistry (IQ) of Unicamp, sole representative of South America. Led by Professor Luiz Carlos Dias, LQOS maintains a line of research aimed at developing compounds for the treatment of so-called neglected diseases, including malaria. In 2008, the laboratory has signed an agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO), which lasted about three years. During this period, the unit produced about 150 analogues geared more specifically to therapy of Chagas' disease. Unfortunately, due to lack of resources, the WHO had to suspend funding of studies have reported the teacher's IQ, noting that the work was sequence, because the lab used funds from other sources.

Recently, two non-governmental organizations, the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV, and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi,, which are linked to the WHO, resumed work and sought by the laboratory . The aim of both was the same: to establish partnerships that LQOS produce compounds with therapeutic potential against neglected diseases. In the case of MMV, the focus is obviously malaria. In the DNDi, attention is focused primarily on Chagas disease and leishmaniasis.

The agreement with MMV, which is expected to last 36 months, has already been signed with Unicamp, and researchers LQOS are in full swing. Since March, they have produced ten analogues, from a standard compound whose structure was sent by the NGO. These analogs were sent to MMV in the first half of May, which subsequently forwards them to other laboratories responsible for testing in vitro and in vivo. In the case of DNDi, the agreement is still being analyzed by the University Council (Consultant), maximum body's deliberative Unicamp. The importance and social significance of the study, I believe that this partnership will also be approved, the teacher risks Days.

According to him, MMV has what experts call the Open Access Malaria Box This box consists of 400 different compounds that have proven to antimalarial activity. These belonged to a library of about 20,000 compounds, which were made available to the scientific community, in 2010, through publications Novartis, St Jude's Children's Research Hospital and GlaxoSmithKline. The relevant data and very promising related to these compounds, as Professor Dias, is that they were developed to treat other diseases, especially various types of cancer.

They did not have the expected result for these evils, but showed activity against malaria, with long half-life times of oral. Also generated important information regarding its metabolism and pharmacokinetics. This is important because our work is not part of the scratch. We already know that these compounds have potential antimalarial. Our job now is to make changes in the structure of this initial prototype that was sent to us by MMV, in order to expand its therapeutic capacity, explains the professor.

For now, the laboratory received only one of the 400 compounds of Open Access Malaria Box The idea is to produce between 50 and 60 analogues from this first target, to be subsequently tested in vitro and in vivo. Thus we conclude that this step MMV to send another compound from which will produce a lot more analogues and so forth. This work is also done in parallel by other laboratories abroad, forming a network. The goal is to exhaust the 400 compounds available in Open Access Malaria Box and get to a drug that can finally eradicate the disease, it said.

All information generated by the study are recorded in a database, which fosters the exchange of ideas among researchers. Once a month, we do a meeting by phone and we talked about the advances and obstacles recorded. With this, we can enhance the action and eventually make course corrections, adds the professor. A great advantage of the partnership with MMV, and also guide the cooperation to be established with DNDi, says the scientist, is that jobs come with international consulting chemists, biochemists, biologists, physicians and pharmacists with extensive experience in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry.

One of these consultants is the scientist Simon Campbell, who led the development of a number of drugs, including Viagra. This type of collaboration is essential. Professionals like Campbell helps guide us, for example, the use or not of a particular substituent. Through their experience, they know when one of them can cause an adverse reaction. With this, we save time and effort, detailing Days.

The teacher says Unicamp be very pleased to be able to contribute to the effort to eradicate neglected diseases, because without the participation of universities and research institutions such initiative would hardly be executed. Obviously, the pharmaceutical industry is not interested in research and development of pharmaceuticals and drugs against this kind of illness because they do not give profit. Thus, it behooves us to assume this task. "

Regarding malaria itself, one aspect has left the public health authorities apprehensive. Currently, the disease is treatable. Occurs, however, that the only recourse is artemisinin, a compound derived from Artemisia annua, a medicinal plant of Chinese origin. The fact that we have only one bullet in the needle is troubling because, like what happens to some bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics, it is possible that the parasites that cause malaria may also become resistant to artemisinin. Should this happen, the treatment will be seriously harmed. Therefore, it is essential to seek novel compounds with high therapeutic potential, considering the teacher.

Regarding the social impact of research involving neglected diseases, Professor Dias explains that researchers have another concern and develop analogs with high potential antimalarial. An important point that must always guide our work is the search for processes and inputs that do not make the final price of the product too high. Thus, we can facilitate access by patients, who usually belong to poor people, as well as public health programs of the respective countries where malaria is endemic.

<i> information Unicamp </ i>

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neglected diseases    malaria    Chagas disease    World Health Organization    WHO Laboratory of Synthetic Organic Chemistry    Institute of Chemistry    UNICAMP    Institute of Chemistry    UNICAMP    Luiz Carlos Dias    Medicines for Malaria Venture    Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative    Open Access Malaria Box    Simon Campbell    artemisinin   
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