Introduction to the vacant position: The Nanomalaria Group is looking for an Early Stage Researcher (PhD student) to develop his/her PhD thesis project on the development of new antimalarial drugs. … Read more
Malaria kills over 500,000 people every year. In the last three years, researchers within the NANOpheles Project worked on the development of nanovectors targeting Plasmodium parasites in the mosquito vector. Xavier Fernàndez-Busquets, coordinator of the EU-funded project, explains their advances in a new video.
According to the study, the strategy has the added advantage of targeting the transmissible phase of the parasite- the gametocyte. Encapsulating two drugs with different properties into nanovesicles surrounded by antibodies can greatly improve their delivery and efficacy, according to a study led by Xavier Fernández Busquets, director of the joint Nanomalaria unit at the Institute for Bionengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by ”la Caixa”.
Combining two drugs that act through different mechanisms is one of the most efficient approaches currently used to treat malaria. However, differences in the drugs’ physichochemical properties (solubility, half-life, etc.) often affect treatment efficacy.
Projects led by IBEC group leader Xavier Fernandez-Busquets and Associated Researcher Antonio Juarez have received funds from 2017’s La Marató de TV3 fundraising campaign.
These and 34 other winning projects were announced at an awards ceremony tonight at the Academia de Ciencias Médicas de Cataluña y Baleares in Barcelona of the 2017 edition of the telethon, which was dedicated to infectious diseases.
La Marató de TV3, together with Catalunya Ràdio, broadcasts its annual telethon to raise funds for scientific research into various diseases with a different theme each year. The 2017 edition of La Marató ran from December 17th until March 31st and raised €9,758,075 for the 36 projects and 55 teams awarded.
A study led by Xavier Fernández Busquets, director of the joint ISGlobal-IBEC Nanomalaria unit, describes an innovative approach to selectively eliminate red blood cells infected by Plasmodium falciparum, avoid their aggregation, and inhibit parasite growth.
The strategy, based on the use of nanovesicles coated with antibodies that target a parasite protein, and loaded with an antimalarial drug, represents a promising alternative in the treatment of severe malaria.
The Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the biotech firm Bioiberica have signed a partnership agreement to study the development of new compounds derived from heparin to combat malaria.
The partnership, which was officially announced this morning at the BioSpain meeting in Bilbao, is based on the research undertaken by Dr Xavier Fernández-Busquets, head of IBEC and ISGlobal’s joint Nanomalaria unit, engaged in developing specific antimalaria therapies, and the R&D project of Bioiberica, world leader in heparin production, to seek new applications of this molecule.
Every year malaria infects 200 million people worldwide and causes half a million deaths. For several decades it has been known that when the malaria parasite enters the bloodstream, it invades the liver cells to produce thousands of merozoites – a stage in the life cycle of the parasite – that enter into the circulation and infect red blood cells, managing to evade the immune system.
Researchers have found heparin-like molecules with reduced blood-thinning activity that can be used for therapeutic approaches against malaria – in sea cucumbers, red algae and marine sponges.
Until now, heparin – which has been shown to have antimalarial activity and specific binding affinity for red blood cells infected with the Plasmodium malaria parasite – has not been explored for anti-malarial drug solutions due to its powerful anticoagulating activity. While heparin is able to block the cell adhesion of infected red blood cells to various host receptors and disrupt the growth of the pathogen, its downfall is that the quantities needed for malaria treatment would result in too much blood-thinning and bleeding. There’s also the potential risk of infection, since polysaccharides such as heparin tend to be obtained from mammals.