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BMBS COST Action B22
Drug development for parasitic diseases

Parasitic diseases are a major threat to the health of the human population throughout the world. Despite this fact, there is a limited number of effective drugs available for the treatment or prophylaxis of many parasitic diseases, in particular the protozoal diseases malaria, leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and South American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease).

The main objective of COST Action B22 was to support identification, evaluation and development of new drugs to treat protozoal diseases, with emphasis on the tropical diseases abovementioned, while also networking research on other parasitic diseases, such as amoebiasis, and opportunistic infections.

The Action succeeded in creating scientific networks and enabling scientists to collaborate in a wide spectrum of activities in research and technology, bringing together chemists, molecular biologists, functional genomics scientists and pharmacologists from university institutes and from industry to create “virtual” companies for the identification, screening and early development of new antiparasitic drugs, aiming at drug target identification, target characterisation and inhibitor design, drug evaluation, preclinical research/development and drug resistance.

The members of COST Action B22 were involved in the genome sequencing projects dealing with Trypanosoma brucei, T. cruzi and Leishmania major, (completed in 2005, published in Science), an achievement which enabled the identification of a plethora of novel targets for the development of new drugs, further allowing the synthesis of numerous chemical compounds which have been designed as potential inhibitors of enzyme from Plasmodium, and Trypanosomatidae. Such inhibitors were further screened and numerous potential drug targets have since been validated.

The dissemination of the results of the Action extended to joint publications and reports (well over 650 peer-reviewed papers and dedicated special journal issues), conferences and workshops, a dedicated web site and mailing list and the scientific and technical co-operation of the groups involved in EU grants for research in the area of Tropical parasites. COST Action B22 established and maintained excellent contacts with such international bodies as the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) of the World Health organisation (WHO), the EU INCO DC programme, the International Organisation for Chemical Sciences in Development (IOCD), who co-sponsored annual meetings and additionally inaugurated grants for scientists from the developing countries to perform research in European laboratories members of COST Action B22.

As the drug research and development process requires dedicated teams of experts to encompass discovery and the various steps of development, registration and distribution, the expertise and resources for the development process had been only available within the pharmaceutical industry. COST Action B22 catalysed the collaboration between drug research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies, enabling the transfer of know-how of drug research into the academic bench and establishing a dialogue between scientists, public health workers and people from industry.

(Descriptions are provided by the Actions directly via e-COST.)


Last updated: 02 May 2011 top of page