The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Patrick Woster of the Medical University of South Carolina.
Polyamine Analogues for the Treatment of Parasitic Disease: Challenges and Opportunities
Despite years of intensive research, antiparasitic chemotherapy largely employs outdated, toxic and ineffective agents. Because of exploitable differences in polyamine metabolism between humans and parasitic organisms, the polyamine pathway has long been regarded as a validated target for antiparasitic drug discovery. Despite the suitability of these targets for drug discovery, and the appearance of a number of promising lead compounds, no polyamine-based drug candidates have been advanced to the market in the last 20 years. A few pharmaceutical companies have active but small discovery programs, however, antiparasitic drug discovery efforts are usually driven by academic laboratories. As in any area of drug discovery, academic laboratories are faced with the so-called “chasm of death” that lies between the limits of academic research and translation of basic technologies to the clinic. This problem is especially prominent in the case of neglected diseases, due to a lack of attention from developed nations and serious underfunding of research efforts worldwide. Thus, effective new translational research programs with substantial external funding are crucial to the development of new agents. This presentation will summarize the lead compounds that have arisen from polyamine antiparasitic research, and also discuss the challenges faced by this research community. The opportunities for the formation of research consortia and subsequent advancement of promising agents to the clinic will also be discussed.