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Software Created to Help Find a Cure For a 'great Neglected Disease'

Skin blisters on the forearm, created by the entrance of Schistosoma parasite.

New software analyzes images to determine the effects of potential drug treatments on parasites.

Credit: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

San Francisco (SF) State University researchers have developed the Quantal Dose Response Calculator (QDREC), software that analyzes images showing the effects of potential drugs on parasites and measures their effectiveness.

QDREC was designed to streamline the screening stage of the drug-discovery process, and the researchers say it can be used by parasitologists, biologists, and other drug developers to help find a cure for schistosomiasis. Although a drug exists to treat the disease, using a single drug to treat millions of people across a large area over decades carries a high risk of the parasite building resistance. Therefore, the World Health Organization has designated the discovery of new therapies for schistosomiasis an urgent need.

However, "people who suffer from these diseases do not carry credit cards, so it would not fit the business models of pharmaceutical companies to try to pursue these diseases--they would not make enough money to recoup their research and development costs," says SF State professor Rahul Singh.

The researchers are optimistic QDREC will help make it possible to find an effective treatment for schistosomiasis.

From SF State News
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