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Astellas links with KEK on tropical diseases

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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Japanese drug major Astellas Pharma has entered into a collaboration with the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), also based in Japan, to discover new drugs for the treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) through the use of synchrotron X-ray crystallography. No commercial terms of the accord were released.

A valuable approach to new drug development that has evolved rapidly in recent years is the design of pharmaceuticals based on the three-dimensional structure of proteins. This method involves designing drugs for the target protein by analyzing and comparing the structure of various compounds and complex conjugates in order to develop an overall understanding of the mechanism by which protein activity is inhibited (or activated). Since 2006, KEK and Astellas have been progressing drug discovery research using synchrotron X-ray beams.

The target of this research is infectious diseases caused by parasitic protozoans, namely leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and Sleeping sickness, and will be divided into two major phases. The first phase involves elucidating the three-dimensional structure of parasitic protozoan proteins that are potential drug targets, allowing the identification of inhibiting compounds that block the action of pathogenic proteins. The second phase consists of the structural analysis of target proteins in complex with the inhibitory compound. Crystallization robots and dedicated beamlines developed by KEK will be employed with structural analysis performed efficiently and over a short time period.

Source: thepharmaletter.com
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