Malaria Group, ICGEB Delhi, awarded Grant from Medicine for Malaria Venture (MMV), Switzerland

A. Mohmmed, along with Volker Heussler and Rebecca S. Limenitakis of the Institute of Cell Biology, Bern, Switzerland have been awarded the prestigious “Malaria Box Challenge Grant” by Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV, Switzerland) to assess these molecules in animal models which may help to further develop these molecules as antimalarials.

Malaria remains a major parasitic disease in tropical and sub-tropical countries causing about 1 million deaths globally every year. In addition there is a rapid development of parasite line resistance to all existing antimalarial drugs including artemisinin, the last defensive against malaria. There is an urgent need to identify new drug targets in the parasites and design new classes of antimalarials. Asif Mohmmed, Principal Investigator in the Malaria Group at ICGEB New Delhi, has identified potent anti-malarial compounds, which target unique parasite protease.

A. Mohmmed’s group carried out detailed genetic studies to show that a unique parasite protease, ClpQ, plays a key role in development and functioning of parasite mitochondrion. His group screened a “Malaria Box” compound library utilizing an in vitro activity based assay to identify hit compounds targeting ClpQ protease. Detailed structure activity relationship (SAR) analysis identified specific lead molecules that can be developed for malaria therapeutics. These compounds effectively kill the parasites at low concentrations without significant toxicity to mammalian cells.

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