Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biomolecular Screening
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

New Tool in the Fight against Tropical Diseases

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Bookmark and Share
A novel tool exploits baker's yeast to expedite the development of new drugs to fight multiple tropical diseases.

The unique screening method uses yeasts which have been genetically engineered to express parasite and human proteins to identify chemical compounds that target disease-causing parasites but do not affect their human hosts.

Parasitic diseases affect millions of people annually, often in the most deprived parts of the world. Every year, malaria alone infects over 200 million people, killing an estimated 655,000 individuals, mostly under the age of five. Unfortunately, our ability to treat malaria, which is caused by Plasmodium parasites, has been compromised by the emergence of parasites that are resistant to the most commonly used drugs. There is also a pressing need for new treatments targeting other parasitic diseases, which have historically been neglected.

Currently, drug-screening methods for these diseases use live, whole parasites. However, this method has several limitations. First, it may be extremely difficult or impossible to grow the parasite, or at least one of its life cycle stages, outside of an animal host. (For example, the parasite Plasmodium vivax, responsible for the majority of cases of malaria in South America and South-East Asia, cannot be continuously cultivated in laboratory conditions.) Second, the current methods give no insight into how the compound interacts with the parasite or the toxicity of the compound to humans.

In an effort to develop new drugs to fight parasitic diseases, scientists from the University of Cambridge have collaborated with computer scientists at Manchester University to create a cheaper and more efficient anti-parasitic drug-screening method. The clever screening method identifies chemical compounds which target the enzymes from parasites but not those from their human hosts, thus enabling the early elimination of compounds with potential side effects.

Professor Steve Oliver, from the Cambridge Systems Biology Centre and Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, said: "Our screening method provides a faster and cheaper approach that complements the use of whole parasites for screening. This means that fewer experiments involving the parasites themselves, often in infected animals, need to be carried out."

The new method uses genetically engineered baker's yeast, which either expresses important parasite proteins or their human counterparts. The different yeast cells are labelled with fluorescent proteins to monitor the growth of the individual yeast strains while they grow in competition with one another. High-throughput is provided by growing three to four different yeast strains together in the presence of each candidate compound. This approach also provides high sensitivity (since drug-sensitive yeasts will lose out to drug-resistant strains in the competition for nutrients), reduces costs, and is highly reproducible.

The scientists can then identify the chemical compounds that inhibit the growth of the yeast strains carrying parasite-drug targets, but fail to inhibit the corresponding human protein (thus excluding compounds that would cause side-effects for humans taking the drugs). The compounds can then be explored for further development into anti-parasitic drugs.

In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of their screening tool, the scientists tested it on Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness. By using the engineered yeasts to screen for chemicals that would be effective against this parasite, they identified potential compounds and tested them on live parasites cultivated in the lab. Of the 36 compounds tested, 60% were able to kill or severely inhibit the growth of the parasites (under standard lab conditions).

Dr Elizabeth Bilsland, the lead author of the paper from the University of Cambridge, said: "This study is only a beginning. It demonstrates that we can engineer a model organism, yeast, to mimic a disease organism and exploit this technology to perform low-cost, fully-automated drug screens to select and optimise drug candidates as well as identify and validate novel drug targets.

"In the future, we hope to engineer entire pathways from pathogens into yeast and also to construct yeast strains that mimic diseased states of human cells."


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Andy Richards receives BIA Lifetime Achievement Award
BBSRC Council member and life sciences entrepreneur Dr Andy Richards has received the BioIndustry Association (BIA) Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
UK Bioscience Sparkles with New Diamond Fellowship
UK bioscience has received a major boost following the announcement of 16 new fellowships by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) including the first ever Diamond Fellowship, so named because the post will be based at the new Research Complex at Harwell, adjacent to the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire - the UK national synchrotron facility.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Scientific News
Liquid Biopsies: Utilization of Circulating Biomarkers for Minimally Invasive Diagnostics Development
Market Trends in Biofluid-based Liquid Biopsies: Deploying Circulating Biomarkers in the Clinic. Enal Razvi, Ph.D., Managing Director, Select Biosciences, Inc.
Crystal Clear Images Uncover Secrets of Hormone Receptors
NIH researchers gain better understanding of how neuropeptide hormones trigger chemical reactions in cells.
New Tool Uses 'Drug Spillover' to Match Cancer Patients with Treatments
Researchers have developed a new tool that improves the ability to match drugs to disease: the Kinase Addiction Ranker (KAR) predicts what genetics are truly driving the cancer in any population of cells and chooses the best "kinase inhibitor" to silence these dangerous genetic causes of disease.
HIV Susceptibility Linked to Little-Understood Immune Cell Class
High levels of diversity among immune cells called natural killer cells may strongly predispose people to infection by HIV, and may be driven by prior viral exposures, according to a new study.
Sweet Revenge Against Superbugs
A special type of synthetic sugar could be the latest weapon in the fight against superbugs.
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
Long-sought Discovery Fills in Missing Details of Cell 'Switchboard'
A biomedical breakthrough reveals never-before-seen details of the human body’s cellular switchboard that regulates sensory and hormonal responses.
Tracking Breast Cancer Before it Grows
A team of scientists led by University of Saskatchewan researcher Saroj Kumar is using cutting-edge Canadian Light Source techniques to screen and treat breast cancer at its earliest changes.
Zebrafish Reveal Drugs that may Improve Bone Marrow Transplant
Compounds boost stem cell engraftment; could allow more matches for patients with cancer and blood diseases.
DNA Damage Seen in Patients Undergoing CT Scanning
Along with the burgeoning use of advanced medical imaging tests over the past decade have come rising public health concerns about possible links between low-dose radiation and cancer.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!