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Oct 26, 2006

Pfizer and WHO Search for New Treatments against Tropical Diseases

  • WHO’s Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO/TDR) will test thousands of compounds from the Pfizer library to identify and further evaluate those that show initial activity against a range of tropical parasites, according to a collaboration between Pfizer and WHO/TDR.

    Scientists in institutes affiliated with the WHO/TDR-sponsored Compound Evaluation Network will carry out the initial testing phase of the agreement. Then, researchers from developing countries supported by a second WHO/TDR network, the Medicinal Chemistry Network, will work with scientists at Pfizer's laboratories in Sandwich, U.K., to evaluate the hits to select lead compounds.

    This initiative is part of a new effort to link the research resources of a major pharmaceutical company to a global network of research and speed the search for new drugs to combat some of the most deadly parasitic diseases, including malaria, leishmaniasis, African trypanosomiasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and Chagas' disease.

    "This agreement with Pfizer is a step forward in expanding worldwide capacity in tropical disease research," says Robert Ridley, director of WHO/TDR, “because it enhances access to research tools for developing country researchers and expands access to large numbers of compounds for screening to identify new leads.”

    Pfizer reported that it has initially provided 12,000 compounds, many of which are known to have activity against protozoan or helminth parasites. As WHO/TDR increases screening capacity, Pfizer says it will provide more compounds. The company's scientists will identify the compounds most likely to address biochemical targets associated with antiparasitic activity.



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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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