Every year, the Department of Medical Sciences selects the outstanding works and inventions on public health to give an honor. This year, two BIOTEC researches were picked for the DMSc Awards 2016, LAMP-LFD assay for malaria parasite detection and “the antimalarial-target Plasmodium serine hydroxymethyltransferase.
“LAMP-LFD assay for malaria parasite detection” was awarded the first prize in quality healthcare category. This assay platform uses the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) technique in combination with lateral flow dipstick for the detection of malaria parasite. The malarial dihydrofolate reductase–thymidylate synthase (dhfr-ts) gene, a target for antifolate class of anti-malarial drugs, is used as a target for this assay development. The total assay time of LAMP–LFD method is approximately 55 minutes, and the result can be visualized on the test strip. This novel method does not require sophisticated equipment, nor experienced technicians to interpret the result, making it highly suitable for field work and healthcare stations in remote area. The assay was developed by Dr. Suganya Yongkiettrakul in collaboration with researchers from BIOTEC and Mahidol University, namely Dr. Darin Kongkasuriyachai, Ms. Wansika Kiatpathomchai, Mr. Narong Arunrut, Mr. Wansadaj Jaroenram, Ms. Wanwisa Chareanchim Dr. Wichai Pornthanakasem and Ms. Supitcha Pannengpetch (Mahidol University).
The work on “Plasmodium serine hydroxymethyltransferase for anti-malarial drug development” was awarded the second prize in medical science R&D category. In the study, researchers performed the crystallization of the surface-engineered mutant PfSHMT-F292E and subsequently determined its structure. The crystal structure of PfSHMT reveals the presence of a unique cysteine pair that acts as a switch to control the tetrahydrofolate-dependent activity of PfSHMT. This redox switch is not present in the human enzyme, in which the cysteine pair is absent. This discovery provides a new strategy to design and develop new families of effective antimalarial drugs that can specifically disrupt the activity of the parasite enzyme without interfering with the function of the human enzyme. This research is led by Dr. Ubolsree Leartsakulpanich, in collaboration with researchers from local and international organizations, namely Mahidol University, Burapha University, Chulalongkorn University, the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, California Institute for Biomedical Research, BASF, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Universität Basel, ETH Zurich, GlaxoSmithKline, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center.
The award ceremony was graciously presided over by H.R.H. Princess Chulabhorn on 21 March 2016 as part of the 24th Annual Medical Sciences Conference organized by the Department of Medical Sciences (DMSc).
Posted on 24 March 2016.