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The DRUID Project

The DRUID Project

The global significance of poverty-associated, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as dengue fever, Ebola and Zika virus infections, leishmaniosis, and schistosomiasis is gaining recognition. More than a billion people in 149 countries worldwide suffer from NTDs. They can assume highly acute, life-threatening progressive forms but also frequently lead to acute chronic diseases. Fighting them is urgently necessary from not only a medical and humanitarian standpoint but also because it will make a decisive contribution to breaking poverty cycles. Moreover, there are too few effective drugs for the majority of NTDs, a situation worsened by side effects and resistance buildup. In the LOEWE Center DRUID (Novel Drug Targets against Poverty-Related and Neglected Tropical Infectious Diseases), urgent problems will be addressed on how to identify and characterize potential target molecules in order to develop drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tools to fight tropical infectious diseases. In DRUID, 25 labs are cooperating across Hessen, combining their capacities and expertise with the greatest synergy. DRUID comprises five project areas that address target molecules from transcription/translation, cytosolic and membrane-associated targets, and targets in hosts and vectors. Some of the pathogens being studied include single and multi-cell parasites (Plasmodium, LeishmaniaTrypanosomaCryptosporidium, Schistosoma, Fasciola, Filarioidea), bacteria (BartonellaBorrelia, Shigella), and viruses (Ebola, Bunyaviridae, Dengue, Corona, Zika, Hepatitis). Since the project proposals have a lot of potential for translation into practical applications, very concrete, close collaborations with industry partners are planned. In order to cope with the complexity of the topic and build efficient networks, additional partners at the international level are being included. With that in mind, this initiative is explicitly following the recommendations of the G7 Academies of Science on NTDs, which the G7 countries' heads of state and government highlighted during their summit in June of 2015. It also supports the World Health Organization's challenge to significantly suppress NTDs by the year 2020.

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