According to a recent paper in the Lancet infectious diseases there has been a lot of progress made in reducing the global burden of diarrhoeal disease, with an overall reduction in mortality of 20% between 2005 and 2015.
But despite this great progress, we should not forget that in 2015 alone 1.3 million people died from diarrhoeal diseases. And around 500,000 of those were children.
Rotavirus is the biggest contributor to deaths - and at Wellcome we are pleased to be working with Merck to support the Hilleman Labs - a vaccine R & D facility in New Delhi - which is making great strides in developing an affordable and stable vaccine for Rotavirus.
One of the other major contributors to childhood deaths is Cryptosporidiosis which affects babies and young children, and people with low immunity, such as HIV or transplant patients. There have been many challenges in working with this parasite, which has meant that developing improved treatments has been particularly difficult.
So it was fantastic to see the recent paper in Nature from a group of researchers from the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD); University of Georgia and Washington State University describing their development of a new new small molecule drug candidate.
In this study, the research team have established a drug discovery process which has led to the identification of new inhibitors of Cryptosporidium lipid kinase PI(4)K (phosphatidylinositol-4-OH kinase). The study used phenotypic assays and screened 6,200 compounds to identify pyrazolopyridines as new potential candidates. Studies show resolution of diarrhoea in model systems - and further work is ongoing to further evaluate these compounds for development as new treatments.
The Innovations team at Wellcome was proud to have been part of the group of organisations that supported the study.