Grid Computing Could Identify Cheaper Ways To Develop Malaria Drugs, Study Says
A study recently published in the Malaria Journal describes how scientists are using high-speed computer networks, or grids, to identify cheaper ways to develop malaria drugs, SciDev.Net reports. This type of virtual screening allows researchers to identify promising new weak points within the malaria parasite, which drug designers can target when they come up with new treatments, according to SciDev.Net.
''We want to draw attention to the opportunity offered by this grid-enabled virtual screening approach for producing short lists of particularly promising molecules, which can be tested in the laboratory at a reduced cost,'' said Martin Hofmann-Apitius from the Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing in Germany, who helped to create and supervise the study.
According to Marli Botha, a researcher from South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and one of two African researchers involved with the study, computers are "especially useful in finding the best sources for new drugs," and they offer the possibility of combating parasites that have become resistant to existing drugs. Scientists have already screened one well-know target enzyme and a promising new malaria parasite enzyme against 4.3 million compounds, SciDev.Net reports.
In addition, laboratories in countries that have fewer resources, can take advantage of the open-source information available through grids that could lead to effective and inexpensive small-scale drug development programs Giulio Rastelli, a study author from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy, said. In the future, the computer will identify multiple targets simultaneously, which could expedite and reduce the cost of drug developments, according to the study's lead researcher Vinod Kasam of Clermont-Ferrand particle physics laboratory in France (Scott, SciDev.Net, 5/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.