Multidisciplinary teams aim to develop new drugs and delivery approaches.

Academic and industry scientists in Canada and India are teaming up to establish a new research consortium focused on developing new types of drugs against malaria. Funded by the International Science and Technology Partnerships Canada and the Indian government’s department of biotechnology, the consortium is working on new antimalarial approaches including slow-release therapies and drug and delivery combination approaches that specifically target a form of malaria that can lay dormant in the liver. Tackling problems of drug resistance will be another major goal.

Participating organizations include: the University Health Network/University of Toronto (which will lead the Canadian side of the consortium), Therapure Biopharma, Lifecare Innovations, the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (consortium lead in India), and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science.

Current projects will include developing drugs against three malaria targets on which extensive research has already been carried out by participating academic groups, the consortium claims. Continuing work will combine expertise in computer modeling, medicinal chemistry, and drug delivery to progress candidates into the clinic.

“In addition to developing new therapeutics, we are also bringing together existing technologies developed by the partners and combining them in new ways such that one will have the potential to boost the effectiveness of another,” comments Lakshmi P. Kotra, Ph.D., director at the Center for Molecular Design and Preformulations at the University Health Network and University of Toronto.

“It was a fascinating process to see different organizations with deep knowledge in their individual fields coming together and combining this knowledge to create innovative and new approaches to the treatment of this disease,” adds Virander Chauhan, Ph.D., director at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi.

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