Partners will progress university’s R&D on African sleeping sickness and visceral leishmaniasis.

The U.K. Wellcome Trust is providing the University of Dundee and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) with £8.6 million in funding for a collaboration focused on the discovery of new treatments for neglected tropical diseases including Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and African sleeping sickness. The University’s drug discovery unit (DDU) will work together with GSK’s kinetoplastids discovery performance unit (DPU) at its medicines development campus in Spain. The aim is to develop at least one treatment against one of the designated diseases within the next five years.

University of Dundee researchers have independently been working towards the development of a new treatment for African sleeping sickness and has also identified potential treatments for leishmaniasis. The Wellcome Trust recently awarded a £1.5 million grant to the DDU’s professor Alan Fairlamb for a Chagas disease project.

Having an industry-experience, multidisciplinary drug discovery team housed alongside world leaders in the biology of these parasites is a major strength of the drug discovery unit and is rare in a U.K. university, comments DDU head, Paul Wyatt, Ph.D.

“Currently we have a portfolio of discovery projects in various stages of development,” adds Mike Ferguson, M.D. “We have several types of compounds with promising activity in animal models. The next step is to chemically modify these molecules to find the optimal balance of drug-like properties for clinical trials.”

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