Purdue researcher awarded $1.3 million for malaria drug trials in Southeast Asia and Africa

Philip Low looks to validate previous trial results and test whether the number of days of an anti-malaria drug therapy can be reduced

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Sept. 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A Purdue researcher is taking a giant leap forward in the fight against drug-resistant strains of malaria in developing countries.

Open Philanthropy has awarded $1.38 million to Philip Low to further validate a drug therapy that he and his colleagues have previously shown to successfully treat the disease. Low (rhymes with “now”) is Purdue University’s Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science.

For years, experts have been concerned about the rise of drug-resistant malaria variants in Southeast Asia and the prospect that one or more of these strains might travel to Africa. A similar event occurred in the 1980s with the emergence of drug resistance to the then-standard treatment of chloroquine, which resulted in millions of deaths.

But Low is working to save lives on both continents by conducting clinical trials to validate previous results and to test whether the number of days of an anti-malaria treatment can be reduced.

While studying how malaria propagates in human blood, Low and his research team discovered that the cancer drug therapy imatinib is effective in the treatment of drug-resistant malaria. Trials in Southeast Asia showed that imatinib, when combined with the customary malaria therapy, clears all malaria parasites from 90% of patients within 48 hours and 100% of patients within three days. The patients receiving imatinib were also relieved of their fevers in less than half of the time experienced by similar patients treated with the standard therapy.

Open Philanthropy has awarded Low $600,000 for a larger clinical trial in Southeast Asia to validate his previous trials. The organization has also awarded Low $780,000 to determine whether the usual three-day therapy can be reduced to two days or even one. This work will be focused in the African countries of Kenya and Tanzania where malaria is prominent.

“We found that people in Africa must often walk many miles to obtain treatment for malaria. They will receive three pills, walk all the way home, take one or two pills, start to feel better, and then save the third pill for their next malaria infection,” Low said. “When they don’t finish the course of treatment, only the most drug-resistant strains of the parasite survive and spread. And that’s how people build up drug resistance. So we’d like to eventually be able to cure all patients with just one pill. It would prevent these drug-resistant strains from ever proliferating.”

Open Philanthropy is a grantmaking organization whose mission is to use its resources to help others as much as it can, according to the funder.

“This is yet another case of an organization recognizing Philip Low’s brilliance, scientific vision and mission to help people in all corners of the world,” said Brooke Beier, senior vice president of Purdue Innovates. “The Purdue Research Foundation has been a proud partner in supporting his work, protecting and promoting his intellectual property that is changing lives and making our world a better place to live.”

Since 1988, Low has been listed on more than 145 invention disclosures to the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization. He has been listed on more than 600 patents in nearly two dozen countries around the world from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and international patent organizations. During his tenure at Purdue, Low has been awarded 213 research grants for more than $43.5 million. His work also receives support from the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research and the Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery.

Imatinib was originally produced by Novartis for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia and other cancers. It works by blocking specific enzymes involved in the growth of cancers.

“When we discovered the ability of imatinib to block parasite propagation in human blood cultures in petri dishes, we initiated a human clinical trial where we combined imatinib with the standard treatment (piperaquine plus dihydroartemisinin) used to treat malaria in much of the world,” Low said.

Malaria infects human red blood cells, where it reproduces and eventually activates a red blood cell enzyme that in turn triggers rupture of the cell and release of a form of the parasite called a merozoite into the bloodstream. Low and his colleagues theorized that by blocking the critical red blood cell enzyme, they could stop the infection. The data from initial drug trials have confirmed that.

“Because we’re targeting an enzyme that belongs to the red blood cell, the parasite can’t mutate to develop resistance — it simply can’t mutate our proteins in our blood cells,” Low said. “This is a novel approach that will hopefully become a therapy that can’t be evaded by the parasite in the future. This would constitute an important contribution to human health.”

The goal, Low said, is to get this into developing countries to save lives. With this new round of funding, he says they’re now closer than they’ve ever been.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives.

About Purdue Innovates

Purdue Innovates is a unified network at Purdue Research Foundation to assist Purdue faculty, staff, students and alumni in either IP commercialization or startup creation. As a conduit to technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and licensing, startup creation and venture capital, Purdue Innovates serves as the front door to translate new ideas into world-changing impact.

For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact Purdue Innovates at purdueinnovates@prf.org.

Media contact: Steve Martin, sgmartin@prf.org

Sources: Philip Low, plow@purdue.edu

Brooke Beier, blbeier@prf.org

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Steve Martin
Purdue Research Foundation
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Expenditure Efficiency Authority Launches ‘Times Have Changed’ Campaign

The Expenditure and Project Efficiency Authority has rolled out the “Times Have Changed campaign” towards the comprehensive transformation in government procurement. This initiative is strategically geared to provide insights into the streamlined government approach to procurement, harnessing the power of unified procurement framework agreements

to drive efficiency. These agreements are designed to bolster the quality of products and services, standardize pricing and specifications, and optimize the allocation of government funds. They also boost the efficiency of government expenditure, expedite procurement through automation, and simplify contracting and purchasing via Etimad e-marketplace.

Within this streamlined procurement approach, the competent authority for unified procurement employs framework agreements to formalize contracts on behalf of government entities. This collaborative effort entails partnering with one or more private sector suppliers and manufacturers to offer a wide range of services and products, fostering diversity in the offering, and ensuring highest quality.

These unified procurement framework agreements present a groundbreaking opportunity that unlocks marketing potential for small and medium-sized enterprises. Their advantages for the private sector are numerous, encompassing an extended market reach that provides access to all government entities via an electronic marketplace, said the authority in a press release. This innovative approach streamlines processes by eliminating the necessity for individual price quotations for

each product or service. Moreover, these agreements underscore a commitment to support local products, guaranteeing equal opportunities and transparency for private sector participation in government procurement.

The direct connection between unified procurement framework agreements and the Etimad e-marketplace empowers government entities to assess a wide range of products and select the most competitive prices and specifications offered within the established framework agreements based on their requirements. This transformation has yielded an impressive 90% reduction in the process time for purchase orders compared to figures from 2021 and establishing new time records in request initiation to approval from 185 days to just five.

Source: Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Comes First in King Mohammed VI International Competition for the Memorizing of the Holy Quran

Saudi Omar bin Abdulaziz Al-Buraidi, nominated by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance to participate in the King Mohammed VI International Competition for Memorization, Recitation and Interpretation of the Holy Quran came first in this competition’s 17th session organized by the Moroccan Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs and held in Casablanca last week.

This is one more achievement in a string of many attained by Saudis in international competitions for the memorizing the Holy Quran.

Source: Saudi Press Agency

Bahrain participates in G77 + China Summit

Deputised by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, has participated in Group 77 plus China (G77 + China) Summit on “Science, Technology and Innovation”.

Cuban President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, in addition to presidents and heads of governments of the Group Member states, attended the summit, held in Havana, Cuba.

Addressing a session held today, the Foreign Affairs Minister conveyed the greetings of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, to the Cuban President, as well as their wishes for success to the summit.

Dr. Al-Zayani said that the kingdom stresses the importance of the role played by G77 + China in promoting effective international cooperation, reiterating Bahrain’s commitment to enhancing international cooperation in science, technology and innovation, in addition to all necessary development fields, out of its belief that the challenges facing developing countries can be turned into real work opportunities, through unifying efforts, energies and capabilities.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain, as a pacifist country, constantly seeks to promote peace in the region, and harmonious coexistence among all the its diverse peoples,” he said, noting that the kingdom’s goal is to create a safe, sustainable environment in which differences in religion, sect, race, creed, or ideology do not hinder progress, or prevent the pursuit of peaceful relations.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain believes in the importance of protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms for all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs,” he added.

“In today’s complex world, which is characterised by many challenges and conflicts, it is necessary to reaffirm our commitment to peaceful means of resolving conflicts and promoting understanding among nations,” he said, adding that “the Kingdom of Bahrain firmly believes that dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation are the basic pillars of achieving sustainable peace and stability.”

The Foreign Affairs Minister called on G77 + China to step up its collective efforts to address the pressing issues facing developing countries, noting that the kingdom recognises the importance of comprehensive and equitable development in guaranteeing the well-being of all individuals and leaving no one behind.

He also indicated that Bahrain believes that empowering people, especially the most vulnerable, and promoting sustainable economic growth, will achieve stability and prosperity for all.

“Bahrain believes in the importance of investing in knowledge-based industries to build a sustainable competitive economy. Through its national strategy for the communications and information technology sector and the digital economy, the kingdom affirms its commitment to devoting a culture of innovation and research, and benefiting from science and technology as tools to enhance productivity, promote entrepreneurship, confront societal challenges, and focus on vital areas such as renewable energy, artificial intelligence and digital transformation,” he added.

He indicated that, based on its belief in the principles of international cooperation, Bahrain renews its call to involve governments and regional organisations in formulating sustainable solutions to crises, exchanging best practices, and supporting initiatives that bridge the gaps between developing countries and developed ones to ensure that the benefits of scientific progress are accessible to all, which will pave the way for achieving the common vision of creating a peaceful and prosperous world capable of facing challenges.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

HH Shaikh Khalid: Bahrain keen to enhance sports cooperation with other countries

The General Sports Authority (GSA) and the Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Serbian Ministry of Sports and National Olympic Committee (NOC).

The MoU was signed on the sidelines of the official visit of His Highness Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Supreme Council for Youth and Sports First Deputy Chairman, GSA Chairman and BOC President, and HH’s accompanying delegation to Serbia to attend the 2023 World Wrestling Championships.

On the occasion, HH Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad expressed delight over the signing of the MoU with Serbia’s Ministry of Sports and NOC, noting that the agreement will pave the way for exchanging expertise and experiences, organising training camps, enhancing prospects for cooperation in various sports, and benefiting from Serbia’s capabilities in the technical, administrative and medical fields.

His Highness affirmed that the MoU is in line with the keenness of the GSA and BOC to open up cooperation horizons with various developed countries in the sports field, including Serbia, which boasts advanced sporting capabilities for training players, refining talent and training coaches, in addition to high-quality infrastructure and playgrounds for training camps, expressing hope that the agreement will contribute to achieving the common interests of both countries.

Source: Bahrain News Agency

Cuban President receives Foreign Affairs Minister

Cuban President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, received here today Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, on the sidelines of the kingdom’s participation in the Group 77 plus China (G77 + China) Summit on “Science, Technology and Innovation”.

The Foreign Affairs Minister conveyed the greetings of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, to the Cuban President, as well as their wishes for continued progress and prosperity to the Cuban people.

The Cuban President requested the Foreign Affairs Minister to convey his greetings and appreciation to HM King Hamad and HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, in addition to his wishes for further progress and prosperity to Bahrain and its people.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel expressed gratitude to the Kingdom of Bahrain for participating in the G77 + China Summit.

Source: Bahrain News Agency