Dr Manu De Rycker, Head of Translational Parasitology at WCAIR and DDU, attended the WorldLeish7 conference in Cartagena, Colombia in August. WorldLeish conferences bring together Leishmania scientists from across the world covering a wide range of topics, from fundamental biology to clinical trials and epidemiology. The conferences are organised every four years, usually in countries where leishmaniasis is endemic. For the first time the WorldLeish conference also covered other kinetoplastid diseases, in particular Chagas disease, as shared learnings can be made from these related diseases.
Manu participated in the session Drug Resistance & Quiescence: Unravelling Mechanisms and Exploitation for Better/New Drugs with a presentation titled ‘Tackling Persisters in Chagas Disease Drug Discovery’. The presentation triggered interesting discussion and was one of several talks about quiescence and drug tolerance at the conference, reflecting the growing interest in this area, both from fundamental biology and drug discovery perspectives.
Dr Marta Lopes Lima from the Mode of Action group also attended the conference. Marta presented on the multiple orthogonal methodologies used by the Mode of Action group to identify and validate molecular targets for drugs against neglected tropical diseases. The workflow of the group was exemplified by the approaches taken to identify oxidosqualene cyclase as the target of the benzothiophene compound demonstrating promising anti-leishmanial activity (LS Paradela et al Cell Chem Biol. 2021 May 20;28(5):711-721.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.02.008)
Marta reflected “As a researcher from an endemic country is always tremendous to witness the achievements of the last 5 years in disease control and improvements in treatment access for communities long forgotten, especially in rural areas. However, we still need better treatments urgently. Leishmaniasis has a unique impact on the social stigmatization of patients in affected communities and treatment needs to be thinking beyond a pill.
“The scientific community has still a long way in understanding the biological peculiarities of these parasites and their clinicopathology implications. We, in the Mode of Action group in Dundee, are proud to be part of this scientific journey and we hope to shed light on the functional biology of these parasites and deliver well-validated molecular targets to new drug discovery programs for these neglected tropical diseases.”
WorldLeish7 was held in Cartagena, Colombia 1-6th August 2022, https://www.worldleish7.org/