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Students seeking drug leads for visceral leishmaniasis

by K.V. Venkatasubramanian, special to C&EN
May 15, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 20

Chemistry students from five universities in India, the U.S., and the U.K. will jointly work on an open-source research project aimed at discovering drug leads for the disease visceral leishmaniasis. The results of the effort will be published in the public domain and be free of intellectual property claims, says the nonprofit group Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, which is coordinating the collaboration. In the project, 25 undergraduate and master’s degree students in chemistry will work together to discover compounds that can kill Leishmania donovani and L. infantum, parasitic protozoans that cause visceral leishmaniasis. Most cases of the disease, also known as kala-azar, occur in Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan, according to the World Health Organization. If the disease is not treated, the fatality rate can be as high as 100% within two years, with the illness killing up to 30,000 people annually. Universities participating in the new research effort are Shobhaben Pratapbhai Patel School of Pharmacy & Technology Management at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Northeastern University, Pace University, and Imperial College London.

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