Trial and Error Research
The family of compounds investigated by the researchers — duocarmycins — have been known to kill malaria and cancer cells for some time; however, they are extremely toxic to humans. As such, using them as treatment comes with considerable collateral damage, which has resulted in many failed clinical trials. These compounds considered to be ‘anti-life,’ as they kill just about everything in their path.
However, PDE-I2, the new compound molecule discovered by the Hamburg- McMaster team, appears to come with all of the potent malaria-killing properties of previously known duocarmycins — just without the adverse effects. “We’ve shone a new light here,” said Wright “We’re looking at a part of chemistry that nobody has ever looked at before.”
The project began when Gilberger and Wright worked together at McMaster between 2010 and 2014. Since then, the Wright laboratory has been sending thousands of sub-fractions derived from specific soil bacteria from Hamilton to Hamburg, where Gilberger and his team would test and validate their anti-malarial activity.