Screening for new molecules with antiparasitic activity

Parasitic diseases are illnesses caused by infection with parasites such as protozoa, worms, or insects. These diseases are widespread all over the world, mainly in the tropical regions and affect especially the children. An efficacious international cooperative network has been established between the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel, the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Geneva, the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence in the Ticino and the University of Sussex (UK). Its aim is the discovery of novel active compounds with antiparasitic activity against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, T. cruzi, Leishmania donovani and Plasmodium falciparum. The project involved the study of 21 plants growing in Niger (West Africa) and used in traditional medicine. Promising bioactive extracts are microfractionated and analyzed by LC-HRMS for an early identification. Structure elucidation of compounds of interest is carried out by various spectroscopic methods including 1D and 2D NMR and spectrometry. Pure compounds are tested for in vitro activity. Identification of the mechanism of action of the new chemical entities through genomics, chemical proteomics and metabolomics, supported by target space modelling is being developed.