The Search for New Antimalarial Therapeutics
Malaria is a devastating disease that affects 300 to 500 million people annually. 1.5 to 2.7 million of these infected individuals die every year, the majority of these deaths occurring in children under the age of five. The rates of malaria infection and death are increasing over the years instead of decreasing. IN the early 1960's, drug-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum (the major causative agent of lethal human malaria) were not prevalent. Today, drug-resistant strains have emerged in practically all malaria-endemic regions, and now 40% of the global human population is at risk.
I will talk about our current efforts in antimalarial drug discovery in Professor DeRisi's lab at UCSF. We use a variety of techniques and approaches to increase our understanding of the malaria parasite and we thereby aim to determine better ways of treating the disease. One approach we use is high throughput screening of potential drug compounds against live parasite cultures. I will discuss some of the challenges we face in dealing with the large amounts of data we generate in our drug screening efforts.
Jennifer Weisman received her B.S. from The College of William and Mary in 1999 and her Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley in 2003. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research interests focus on enzyme-specific strategies to develop new antimalarial therapeutics.