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Researcher to study new therapeutic targets for elephantiasis

Sept. 16, 2013 College News - The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a two-year, $475,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study new therapeutic targets for lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic disease that causes lymphedema and elephantiasis, characterized by severe swelling of the extremities.

Michael Kron, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and member of the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center, is the principal investigator of the grant.

Lymphatic filariasis, caused by the parasites Brugia malayi and Wuchereria bancrofti, is one of the World Health Organization's "Top Ten Neglected Tropical Diseases." It infects more than 200 million people worldwide and places more than one billion people at risk. Medications currently available have two limitations: they cannot prevent the disease, and they do not kill the adult worms.

Dr. Kron’s lab has shown a new molecular target called AsnRS is expressed in all stages of the parasite’s life cycle; therefore AsnRS inhibitors could be developed into a new class of medicines to treat lymphatic filariasis. The Kron lab is working with actinomycete chemist, Dr. Ben Shen of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., to identify new AsnRS inhibitors from natural products produced by actinomycete bacteria.

In this study, the researchers will collect data to prioritize new AsnRS inhibitors as potential drugs.  Promising lead compounds will be presented to the World Health Organization for consideration as new human therapeutics.

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Page Updated 09/16/2013