Purdue researcher awarded $1.3 million for malaria drug trials in Southeast Asia and Africa

Philip Low looks to validate previous trial results and test whether the number of days of an anti-malaria drug therapy can be reduced

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Sept. 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A Purdue researcher is taking a giant leap forward in the fight against drug-resistant strains of malaria in developing countries.

Open Philanthropy has awarded $1.38 million to Philip Low to further validate a drug therapy that he and his colleagues have previously shown to successfully treat the disease. Low (rhymes with “now”) is Purdue University’s Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science.

For years, experts have been concerned about the rise of drug-resistant malaria variants in Southeast Asia and the prospect that one or more of these strains might travel to Africa. A similar event occurred in the 1980s with the emergence of drug resistance to the then-standard treatment of chloroquine, which resulted in millions of deaths.

But Low is working to save lives on both continents by conducting clinical trials to validate previous results and to test whether the number of days of an anti-malaria treatment can be reduced.

While studying how malaria propagates in human blood, Low and his research team discovered that the cancer drug therapy imatinib is effective in the treatment of drug-resistant malaria. Trials in Southeast Asia showed that imatinib, when combined with the customary malaria therapy, clears all malaria parasites from 90% of patients within 48 hours and 100% of patients within three days. The patients receiving imatinib were also relieved of their fevers in less than half of the time experienced by similar patients treated with the standard therapy.

Open Philanthropy has awarded Low $600,000 for a larger clinical trial in Southeast Asia to validate his previous trials. The organization has also awarded Low $780,000 to determine whether the usual three-day therapy can be reduced to two days or even one. This work will be focused in the African countries of Kenya and Tanzania where malaria is prominent.

“We found that people in Africa must often walk many miles to obtain treatment for malaria. They will receive three pills, walk all the way home, take one or two pills, start to feel better, and then save the third pill for their next malaria infection,” Low said. “When they don’t finish the course of treatment, only the most drug-resistant strains of the parasite survive and spread. And that’s how people build up drug resistance. So we’d like to eventually be able to cure all patients with just one pill. It would prevent these drug-resistant strains from ever proliferating.”

Open Philanthropy is a grantmaking organization whose mission is to use its resources to help others as much as it can, according to the funder.

“This is yet another case of an organization recognizing Philip Low’s brilliance, scientific vision and mission to help people in all corners of the world,” said Brooke Beier, senior vice president of Purdue Innovates. “The Purdue Research Foundation has been a proud partner in supporting his work, protecting and promoting his intellectual property that is changing lives and making our world a better place to live.”

Since 1988, Low has been listed on more than 145 invention disclosures to the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization. He has been listed on more than 600 patents in nearly two dozen countries around the world from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and international patent organizations. During his tenure at Purdue, Low has been awarded 213 research grants for more than $43.5 million. His work also receives support from the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research and the Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery.

Imatinib was originally produced by Novartis for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia and other cancers. It works by blocking specific enzymes involved in the growth of cancers.

“When we discovered the ability of imatinib to block parasite propagation in human blood cultures in petri dishes, we initiated a human clinical trial where we combined imatinib with the standard treatment (piperaquine plus dihydroartemisinin) used to treat malaria in much of the world,” Low said.

Malaria infects human red blood cells, where it reproduces and eventually activates a red blood cell enzyme that in turn triggers rupture of the cell and release of a form of the parasite called a merozoite into the bloodstream. Low and his colleagues theorized that by blocking the critical red blood cell enzyme, they could stop the infection. The data from initial drug trials have confirmed that.

“Because we’re targeting an enzyme that belongs to the red blood cell, the parasite can’t mutate to develop resistance — it simply can’t mutate our proteins in our blood cells,” Low said. “This is a novel approach that will hopefully become a therapy that can’t be evaded by the parasite in the future. This would constitute an important contribution to human health.”

The goal, Low said, is to get this into developing countries to save lives. With this new round of funding, he says they’re now closer than they’ve ever been.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives.

About Purdue Innovates

Purdue Innovates is a unified network at Purdue Research Foundation to assist Purdue faculty, staff, students and alumni in either IP commercialization or startup creation. As a conduit to technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and licensing, startup creation and venture capital, Purdue Innovates serves as the front door to translate new ideas into world-changing impact.

For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at [email protected]. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact Purdue Innovates at [email protected].

Media contact: Steve Martin, [email protected]

Sources: Philip Low, [email protected]

Brooke Beier, [email protected]

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Steve Martin
Purdue Research Foundation
[email protected]

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NEITI advocates economic, social justice for oil producing communities

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has renewed the call for economic, environmental and social justice for oil, gas and mining host communities in Nigeria.

Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Executive Secretary, NEITI, made the call in Owerri, Imo State at the opening of the National Extractives Dialogue, organised by a Civil Society Organisation- Spaces for Change in collaboration with NEITI and the Ford Foundation.

The dialogue focused on Host Community Development Trusts (HCDT) to serve as the catalyst for equitable benefit-sharing and sustainable prosperity for all in host communities.

Orji, in a statement on Friday by Mrs Obiageli Onuorah, Deputy Director/Head Communications and Stakeholders’ Management, said a special multi-stakeholder’s approach was required for the development of host communities.

The NEITI Executive Secretary said such approach would draw national and international attention to the specific responsibilities of extractive companies, government, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), development partners and the host communities.

This, he said, would address development issues of access to education, health care, job opportunities, environmental challenges and social infrastructure deficit in oil, gas and mining host communities.

He advised leaders of host communities drawn from the South-South and South East geo-political zones to change their advocacy approach and work with NEITI to push their complaints through peaceful consultations driven by knowledge, information, data sharing, constructive engagements and dialogue.

He explained that the 2023 annual dialogue series was to serve as a new platform for discussions and constructive debates on how citizens-centered-policy engagements would drive the implementation of HCDT established by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA 2021).

“There is the need to examine how the HCDT as enshrined in the PIA is being implemented. What is the governance structure?

“How inclusive, participatory and transparent is the process of nominating members of the Board of Trustees, Management Committees and Advisory Committees,” he said.

Orji explained that NEITI’s legitimate interest in working with Spaces for Change, a civil society organisation was in furtherance of the agency’s partnership with CSOs to deepen the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative at the sub national levels.

He appealed to host communities in Nigeria to build trust and confidence in managing the relationship between host communities, government and the companies operating in the sector.

The Deputy Chairman, Committee on Host Communities in the House of Representatives, Abdulkarim Ahmed, called for inclusion of public education, conflict prevention, management and resolution mechanism in the implementation of HCDT Fund and pledged the support of the National Assembly.

Imo State Governor, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, represented by the Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Prof. Eugene Opara, expressed satisfaction with the tone and direction of the dialogue and pledged the support of the state government.

Uzodimma welcomed the clarification given on the three per cent operating cost of the oil and gas companies.

He called on relevant government agencies in the sector saddled with implementation to invest in public education and enlightenment of host communities.

The host and Executive Director of Spaces for Change, Mrs Vicotria Ohaeri, called on the host communities to organise themselves and take full ownership of the process.

Ohaeri added that the provisions of the new legislation had moved host communities away from the era of charitable developmental assistance to a new era of entitlements and human rights.

“Host communities under the PIA provisions now have the right to benefit from natural resources.

“And these benefits are no longer acts of corporate benevolence, but entitlement to partake in the design, structure of their own development and participate in the governance and administration of the extractive resources,” she said.

The Dialogue was attended by government agencies in the oil and gas industry, civil society organisations, representatives of state governments, the media and development partners.

The Dialogue examined the structure of the fund, the need for inclusiveness in designing the governance structure, definition of roles of state governments, companies, traditional rulers, host communities and the civil society.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Flood: State govts becoming more proactive – NEMA D-G

Mr Mustapha Ahmed, Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), has said that state governments are becoming more proactive in their response to disaster issues in the country.

Ahmed said this at the end of a four-day workshop organised for staff of the agency and staff of various State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop with the theme: “Disaster Management and Preparedness Institutional Capacity Strengthening” was organised in collaboration with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA).

The workshop had the support of UNICEF, International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent (IFRC), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Nigerian Red Cross Society.

The D-G said that the decision by the state governments to send their representatives for the workshop showed that they were more resolved in tackling disasters at the grassroots and sub-national levels.

He said that the decision to bring together staff of NEMA and SEMAs for the workshop was deliberate as the agency was committed to fostering cooperation, collaboration, experience sharing and enhanced collaboration between the federal and state agencies.

According to him, building capacities of the disaster management staff is a critical component for effective and efficient disaster management.

“In NEMA, we are looking beyond the present and working towards building a more robust system of disaster management where all relevant stakeholders are not only aware but also prepared to carry out their roles.

“This informs the wide range of collaboration and partnership engaged by the agency in the delivery of its mandates,” he said.

The director-general, who appreciated UN-OCHA and other stakeholders for collaborating with the agency for the training, urged the participants to apply the knowledge gained towards improving services in their various states.

Mr Trond Jensen, Head of UN-OCHA office, represented by Mr Ibrahima Barry, Head of Government Liaison Unit, assured of its readiness to continue collaborating with NEMA to effectively discharge its mandates.

“Our role in the humanitarian sector is to support government efforts and we in UN-OCHA will continue to reinforce our collaboration with NEMA.

“One thing we will also do is to create a communication network so that we can keep in touch and get updated when there is an emergency situation,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Hopewell Munyari, Operations Manager, IFRC, said it was important to have continuous collaborations with relevant stakeholders in disaster response in the country.

“It should not stop here after the workshop, I hope you all will go back to your states and implement what you have learnt,” he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

NGO sensitises public on environment, waste management

A Youth-led Environmental Organisation, Green Globe Initiative on Friday embarked on a climate awareness march to sensitise the public on climate and environmental sustainability.

The Founder, Green Globe Initiative, Mr Akintola Akinyemi, led the Nigeria Climate Awareness March in Ilorin.

Akinyemi called on the public to be conscious of indiscriminate dumping of refuse, so as to avoid blocking the waterways.

He described the march as a global event, saying that the event was taking place in fifteen states of the country simultaneously.

“This is the time to be aware of our environment and be passionate about sanitation and hygiene.

“We need to be sensitive about our environment and desist from indiscriminate dumping of refuse.

“We should also be informed on how we manage our waste. Let us work together as agents of safe environment.

“Enough of our nonchalant approach to our environment. Stop putting your solid wastes in the drain. Prioritise safety first before your business and other things,” he counselled.

Akinyemi explained that in year 2022, 32 out of 36 states experienced massive flood in Nigeria, noting that this called for urgent preventive measures.

The founder warned that erosion and flood are harmful to lives, infrastructure and businesses.

He called on government at all levels to put in place a strong policy to enforce cooperation from the public, and advocated for a harsh punishment and fines for violators who endangered lives.

“Government should prioritise public safety and safe environment. Be harsh on violators and ensure workable policies are in place,” Akinyemi stressed.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the awareness march began at Post office’s ‘Soludero Park’, and covered some busy areas of Ilorin such as CBN, Muritala, Yoruba Road, Challenge, Unity Road and Maraba.

Participants at the awareness march included representatives from the Kwara Ministry of Environment, University of Ilorin, Kwara Polytechnic, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and others.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Miss Africa urges more support for African female farmers

The reigning Miss Africa, Precious Okoye, has urged governments of African countries to increase the support given to female farmers because they contribute a lot to food production and preservation.

Okoye stated this in Saki, Oyo State during an activity of her pet project on agro-industrialisation where she empowered some farmers.

She said it was in recognition of the contribution of women to farming that her PET project seeks to encourage local female farmers to keep up with agriculture.

The beauty queen added that this was because they contribute immensely to the growth of the economy, by helping to produce and preserve food.

”I am pleading with the governments and private sector across Nigeria and Africa to support me in this project, as I am looking at carrying out this project in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and further on in Africa.

”This is to help female farmers to be more productive, save their time and energy and also get the job done.

“These women are going through so much and usually farm with their bare hands and we can make their lives better and also create more job opportunities for them,” Okoye said.

She urged governments to support women farmers with fertilisers and farm implements which can make their lives easier.

“With these local farmers we can help our GDP and boost the economy for sustainability.”

In his remarks at the occasion, the Okere of Saki, Khalid Olabisi, the Ado Oyedepo III, congratulated Okoye for emerging as Miss Africa.

“I think this is the first of its kind in Nigeria. I also want to commend her on her choice of pet project which is to assist female farmers.

“As we all know, Saki is known for farming by both the male and female, and this will boost the number of female that will go into farming if this kind of project is done yearly.

“We thank God for her life and her presence here will encourage other young girls to see her for the first time here, as Miss Africa, in their domain.

“It will inspire them and make them work hard and aspire to be one in the future,” Olabisi said.

One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Aderemilekun Ojo, commended Okoye, praying that God should bless her.

”We can do much with what was given to us, and we will surely utilise them,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that Precious Okoye is a 27-year-old Botany graduate from the University of Lagos.(NAN)

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Customs boss rallies support for Serbia-bound wrestlers

The acting Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Adewale Adeniyi, says he is confident of a good outing for Nigerian wrestlers at the World Wrestling Championships in Serbia.

Adeniyi stated this on Saturday in Abuja at a special routine exercise/keep fit session for officers and men of the NCS, which included Serbia-bound Nigerian female wrestlers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that six female Nigerian wrestlers departed Nigeria for Serbia to represent Nigeria at the Championships shortly after the exercise.

The Customs boss said the Nigerian contingent was specially invited to the exercise/keep fit session so as to support them physically and psychologically, ahead of their departure.

Adeniyi, who is also a board member of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF), described the federation as the best performing federation in terms of organisation and performance at international competitions.

“This exercise is a special one because it is dedicated to our national female wrestling team that will be representing Nigeria at the World Championships in Serbia.

“If you look at all the federations inaugurated by the former Minister of Sports, the NWF happens to be one of the best, if not the best performing federation.

“The wrestlers have had a long camping period at the wrestling classics sponsored by the governor of Bayelsa to keep the athletes in good condition, so I believe we will do well in Serbia,” he said.

Adeniyi stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace exercise and sports generally as a way of life, so as to remain healthy and more productive at work.

Earlier, Purity Akuh, national wrestling coach, assured on the readiness of the team to make Nigeria proud and bring back medals.

He said the team had prepared well for the championships, which also serves as the first qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“This is the first Olympics qualifiers and I am very optimistic. With our preparations, by the grace of God we will make Nigeria proud, make the federation proud and bring back medals,” he said.

NAN reports that Nigeria will be competing in the 50kg, 53kg, 57kg, 62kg, 68kg and 76kg.

The contingent comprises Olympic medalist, Blessing Oborududu, Silver medalist at the 2017 World Wrestling Championships, Odunayo Adekuroye, among others.

The 2023 World Wrestling Championships will be held from Sept. 16 to 24, with close to 1,000 wrestlers competing in freestyle, Greco-Roman and Women’s Wrestling.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria