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The challenge of developing drugs for neglected parasitic diseases
Published on October 7, 2014 27 min
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This is James H. McKerrow from the UCSF Center for Drug Discovery. I'm giving a talk on the challenge of developing drugs for neglected parasitic diseases.
We're going to be talking about parasitic diseases today, so what is a parasite?
Parasite comes from the Greek word, parasitos. which is the name of a class of priests who had meals at public expense-- this, according to Clitodemus, an ancient writer. And certainly, by this definition, probably all of you have met a parasite in your life.
But the modern definition of parasite refers to eukaryotic organisms that can range from very simple single-cell protozoa, such as malaria and the trypanosomes, to very complex multicellular worms, including roundwarms, the nematodes, flatworms, the platyhelminths, and cestodes, the tapeworms.
So we've defined parasite. Let's define what we mean by a neglected disease.
Neglected tropical diseases are diseases in which there are no effective drugs, no safe drugs, or there's drug resistance. This is despite the fact that these are diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide, making them major global health problems. In addition, for many of these diseases, there is currently no adequate diagnostic test. And for virtually all of them, there is no effective vaccine. So why is it that if diseases, such as shown in this slide, affect so many million people, we don't have effective drugs?