Parasitic Helminth Molecular Toolbox

CDIPD is once again the conduit for travel funds provided by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for students and postdocs working on parasitic helminths (worms) throughout the world. Thanks to Jean Kramarik at BWF, CDIPD can offer airfare and per diem costs to facilitate laboratory to laboratory collaborations developing a parasitic helminth molecular toolbox. Formerly limited to schistosome-related research, the BWF is eager to extend the Travel Award to include all research topics relating to the biology and pathology of parasitic roundworms and flatworms. Please send applications by October 1st 2015 to Loralyn Cross, BWF Coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., for initial processing. Successful applicants will be notified in the first half of November 2015 and the award will be disbursed upon receipt of a final progress report. Please note that only one applicant from an individual laboratory may apply and that awardees from earlier grant cycles are not eligible.

Discovery of a protease inhibitor with activity against several parasitic infections

K777 is a cysteine protease inhibitor discovered through the collaboration between CDIPD (then the NIH-sponsored Tropical Disease Research Unit) and Khepri Biosciences (later Celera). Over the succeeding decade, K777 moved through the drug development pipeline with support from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, The Sandler Foundation, and the Institute for OneWorld Health. It is now undergoing late-stage preclinical development according to recommendations from a successful pre-IND meeting with the FDA. Aside from its original activity against Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent for Chagas' disease, K777 has also shown activity in animal models of hookworm infection, schistosomiasis and cryptosporidiosis, and inhibits the molting of Onchocerca volvulus, the causative agent of river blindness.

Repurposing auranofin as a drug to treat several parasitic infections

CDIPD member, Dr. Anjan Debnath, developed the first high-throughput screen for identifying drugs effective against Entamoeba histolytica. While screening a library of FDA-approved drugs and bioactives, Dr. Debnath discovered auranofin as an FDA-approved drug with better efficacy than the current treatment for amebiasis. This drug, originally developed for rheumatoid arthritis, has received Orphan Drug Status from the FDA, and is also effective against Giardia, Trichomonas, Cryptosporidium, Onchocerca and Brugia. For more details see recent press releases and publications.

Boron-containing lead compounds targeting human African trypanosomiasis

A collaboration with Anacor led to the identification of a potent lead series effective against trypanosomes in culture, as well as in an animal model of acute infection. CDIPD Director, James McKerrow, introduced Anacor to DNDi to facilitate further development of this series. With synthetic chemistry and PK support from Scynexis, a lead compound has been developed into a clinical candidate, oxaborole SCYX-7158. This drug candidate is now in clinical trials and was declared "Project of the Year 2011" by DNDi.

A new drug lead for Naegleria infection and visceral leishmaniasis

Corifungin, a natural product discovered and produced by Acea Pharmaceuticals, was shown by CDIPD investigators Dr. Geraldine DeMuylder and Dr. Anjan Debnath to have efficacy against Naegleria fowleri, the causative agents of primary amoebic meningal encephalitis, and Leishmania donovani, the parasite responsible for visceral leishmaniasis. CDIPD is collaborating with the Acea Pharmaceuticals to seek funding from NIAID for preclinical testing. Corifungin has received Orphan Drug Status from the FDA.