A team headed by Paul Carlier, Professor of Chemistry, Virginia Tech has received funding from the National Institutes of Health to carry out lead optimization on antimalarial drug candidate MMV008138. Carlier, who is Deputy Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery, is joined by Prof. Dan Slade (Biochemistry, Virginia Tech), Prof. Maria B. Cassera (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Georgia), and Dr. Max Totrov (Molsoft LLC, San Diego, CA). Each brings critical complementary expertise to this effort. They aim to find analogs of MMV008138 that have superior potency and selectivity for inhibition of IspD, an enzyme in the MEP pathway for isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis in the malaria parasite. Since mammals do not have this biochemical pathway, these analogs will have minimal “on-target” toxicity in humans.

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