This month saw the publication of a special issue of Parasitology entitled Heat shock proteins as drug targets in infectious diseases.  Guest editor Utpal Tatu discusses the special issue here.

“Despite advances in medicine and the availability of new vaccines the occurrence of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases is on the rise globally. The main hurdle in controlling the spread of infectious diseases appears to be the ability of the infectious agents to mutate – giving rise to drug resistance and also evading the immune system. Indeed the ability of microbes to develop drug resistance is faster than our ability to discover new drugs. Emergence of drug resistant forms of the malarial parasite and outbreaks of Ebola in Africa are recurrent examples of challenges posed by microbes to human life. This special issue of Parasitology focuses on exploring the potential of heat shock proteins as novel drug targets and its inhibitors as candidate drugs. A selection of infectious agents ranging from viruses, fungi to protozoa causing fatal infections in humans and animals is presented with our current state of knowledge on development of heat shock proteins targeted drugs. The articles presented by leaders in the field from different parts of the world suggest that heat shock protein 90 directed drugs need to be looked at closely by pharma companies as broad spectrum anti-infectives. These drugs not only have the potential to efficiently clear infections but also help overcome drug resistance in many infectious disease causing organisms. On reading this treatise it becomes evident that sufficient information is now available from various academic labs to warrant clinical trials to examine the efficacy of these drugs in patients.

It is important to highlight here that some of the Hsp90 inhibitors described in these articles have been previously tried in human subjects in phase III clinical trials as anti-cancer drugs. This presents a tremendous opportunity as we already know the distribution, metabolism and toxicology of these drugs in humans. This means that the long and convoluted path of drug development is now simplified.

This special issue on heat shock proteins directed anti-infectives makes a strong case for funding agencies and pharma companies to step-in and help translate decades of research and clinical information developed in this area by various academics and companies into better treatment options against diseases ranging from AIDS, Candidiasis and Malaria, to Leishmanisis and Trypanosomosis.”

Read all the articles in this special issue here for free until 30 September 2014.

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