Purdue researcher awarded $1.3 million for malaria drug trials in Southeast Asia and Africa

Philip Low looks to validate previous trial results and test whether the number of days of an anti-malaria drug therapy can be reduced

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Sept. 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A Purdue researcher is taking a giant leap forward in the fight against drug-resistant strains of malaria in developing countries.

Open Philanthropy has awarded $1.38 million to Philip Low to further validate a drug therapy that he and his colleagues have previously shown to successfully treat the disease. Low (rhymes with “now”) is Purdue University’s Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science.

For years, experts have been concerned about the rise of drug-resistant malaria variants in Southeast Asia and the prospect that one or more of these strains might travel to Africa. A similar event occurred in the 1980s with the emergence of drug resistance to the then-standard treatment of chloroquine, which resulted in millions of deaths.

But Low is working to save lives on both continents by conducting clinical trials to validate previous results and to test whether the number of days of an anti-malaria treatment can be reduced.

While studying how malaria propagates in human blood, Low and his research team discovered that the cancer drug therapy imatinib is effective in the treatment of drug-resistant malaria. Trials in Southeast Asia showed that imatinib, when combined with the customary malaria therapy, clears all malaria parasites from 90% of patients within 48 hours and 100% of patients within three days. The patients receiving imatinib were also relieved of their fevers in less than half of the time experienced by similar patients treated with the standard therapy.

Open Philanthropy has awarded Low $600,000 for a larger clinical trial in Southeast Asia to validate his previous trials. The organization has also awarded Low $780,000 to determine whether the usual three-day therapy can be reduced to two days or even one. This work will be focused in the African countries of Kenya and Tanzania where malaria is prominent.

“We found that people in Africa must often walk many miles to obtain treatment for malaria. They will receive three pills, walk all the way home, take one or two pills, start to feel better, and then save the third pill for their next malaria infection,” Low said. “When they don’t finish the course of treatment, only the most drug-resistant strains of the parasite survive and spread. And that’s how people build up drug resistance. So we’d like to eventually be able to cure all patients with just one pill. It would prevent these drug-resistant strains from ever proliferating.”

Open Philanthropy is a grantmaking organization whose mission is to use its resources to help others as much as it can, according to the funder.

“This is yet another case of an organization recognizing Philip Low’s brilliance, scientific vision and mission to help people in all corners of the world,” said Brooke Beier, senior vice president of Purdue Innovates. “The Purdue Research Foundation has been a proud partner in supporting his work, protecting and promoting his intellectual property that is changing lives and making our world a better place to live.”

Since 1988, Low has been listed on more than 145 invention disclosures to the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization. He has been listed on more than 600 patents in nearly two dozen countries around the world from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and international patent organizations. During his tenure at Purdue, Low has been awarded 213 research grants for more than $43.5 million. His work also receives support from the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research and the Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery.

Imatinib was originally produced by Novartis for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia and other cancers. It works by blocking specific enzymes involved in the growth of cancers.

“When we discovered the ability of imatinib to block parasite propagation in human blood cultures in petri dishes, we initiated a human clinical trial where we combined imatinib with the standard treatment (piperaquine plus dihydroartemisinin) used to treat malaria in much of the world,” Low said.

Malaria infects human red blood cells, where it reproduces and eventually activates a red blood cell enzyme that in turn triggers rupture of the cell and release of a form of the parasite called a merozoite into the bloodstream. Low and his colleagues theorized that by blocking the critical red blood cell enzyme, they could stop the infection. The data from initial drug trials have confirmed that.

“Because we’re targeting an enzyme that belongs to the red blood cell, the parasite can’t mutate to develop resistance — it simply can’t mutate our proteins in our blood cells,” Low said. “This is a novel approach that will hopefully become a therapy that can’t be evaded by the parasite in the future. This would constitute an important contribution to human health.”

The goal, Low said, is to get this into developing countries to save lives. With this new round of funding, he says they’re now closer than they’ve ever been.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives.

About Purdue Innovates

Purdue Innovates is a unified network at Purdue Research Foundation to assist Purdue faculty, staff, students and alumni in either IP commercialization or startup creation. As a conduit to technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and licensing, startup creation and venture capital, Purdue Innovates serves as the front door to translate new ideas into world-changing impact.

For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact Purdue Innovates at purdueinnovates@prf.org.

Media contact: Steve Martin, sgmartin@prf.org

Sources: Philip Low, plow@purdue.edu

Brooke Beier, blbeier@prf.org

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Steve Martin
Purdue Research Foundation
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Dancing pallbearers: It’s unlawful to drop a coffin during burial ceremony – Mortuaries CEO

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mortuaries and Funeral Facilities (MoFFA), Dr Yaw Twerefour, has issued a stern warning to pallbearers who engage in the practice of dancing while carrying coffins with deceased bodies.

He emphasised that while dancing with a coffin may not necessarily violate the law, if the coffin is accidentally dropped during such activities, it becomes a legal issue.

Dr Twerefour clarified that the problem arises when the act of dancing with the coffin results in the desecration of the deceased’s body, which is against the law.

He pointed out that pallbearers from security agencies typically refrain from dancing with deceased bodies because it is unlawful.

Speaking during an interview on the ‘Obra Mu Nsem’ show on CTV, hosted by Ohenewaa Kaseboahen on Friday, September 15, 2023, Dr Twerefour addressed the recent viral videos on social media showing pallbearers dancing while carrying coffins with deceased bodies.

He emphasised that there is no law explicitly banning the act of dancing with coffins, but if the coffin is accidentally dropped during such activities, it amounts to the desecration of the deceased.

Dr Twerefour went on to explain the intricacies of handling deceased bodies, noting that the body stiffens considerably within three hours after death, especially when combined with embalming and freezing processes.

Achieving various displays during a funeral, such as dressing the deceased in their former profession, may not necessarily infringe on the law.

However, if the act involves breaking the bones of the deceased to achieve the family’s intentions, it crosses into the territory of desecration.

Source: Ghana Web

Farmers in Upper West introduced to GAPs in groundnut production

Farmers in the Upper West Region have been introduced to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) to enable them to produce higher quality groundnut for the Ghanaian market.

The GAPs are also to ensure sustainable agriculture and improved livelihoods.

This is an initiative by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI), in partnership with the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut.

The Ghana Market Systems and Resilience programme is also supporting the initiative.

More than 100 members of farmer groups from districts and municipalities across the region were introduced to those practices during a Farmers’ Field Day at Tanina in the Wa West District.

The Field Day, which focused on increasing the uptake of adaptation measures such as new technologies and improved agricultural practices, allowed smallholder farmers to observe and compare the performance of different groundnut treatments to improve farming skills.

Dr George Mahama, a Senior Research Scientist, CSIR-SARI, Wa Station, said yield losses due to low soil fertility and disease infestations mainly resulted from the minimal application of nutrients during groundnut cultivation.

The use of low-quality recycled seed, limited use of pesticides and fungicides, and non-adherence to proper plant spacing were some of the constraints farmers faced in groundnut production.

‘To address the skill and knowledge gaps identified as major hindrances to initiatives aimed to enhance groundnut productivity, the project has established multiple learning sites aimed at improving the agricultural knowledge and skills of smallholder farmers, particularly in producing quality groundnut for the Ghanaian markets,’ Dr Mahama, who is in charge of the demonstration plots, said.

He observed that groundnut production in smallholder farming systems in northern Ghana could be enhanced using certified seeds, pesticides and fungicides to control pests and disease infestations.

‘Nutrient management practices based on the concept of using the right source of nutrients applied at the right rate, at the right place, and at the right time can also improve groundnut production,’ he said.

He said the increase in groundnut yields through the GAPs would improve household incomes given the higher profits associated with the crop, compared to other crops.

‘When farmers see adaptive farming practices like these at work, it can be easier for them to try the new practices on their farms because they recognise a clear, tangible value to make the shift.’

Dr Richard Oteng-Frimpong, a Plant Breeder, CSIR-SARI, Nyamkpala Station, encouraged the farmers to ensure their fields were always clean, saving the crop from competing with weeds for the limited soil nutrients.

Poor weed management on groundnut fields also led to post-harvest losses as some of the nuts were left in the soil during harvesting, he said.

On groundnut disease control, Dr. Oteng-Frimpong said: ‘One of the easiest and cheapest ways to control the disease is to use improved and disease-resistant groundnut varieties.’

Some of the farmers who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) said the Field Day was an eye-opener since they had discovered the benefits of some new technologies and techniques they would adopt to improve their farming activities.

The technologies included the use of climate-smart and other sustainable agricultural practices such as disease-resistant groundnut variety, quality seed, optimum plant spacing, and weed and nutrient management.

The knowledge gained would ensure more resilient and prosperous agricultural practices to improve their lives and communities, the farmers said.

Mr Martin Bondiyiri, a Seed Grower at Nadowli, said he had learned the identification and management of major groundnut diseases especially leaf spot disease, which most farmers, unfortunately, interpreted as an indicator of groundnut maturity.

Source: Ghana News Agency

AGA schools holds 8th graduation ceremony

AngloGold Ashanti School in Obuasi has held its 8th graduation ceremony with a call for more attention to be placed on how the digital revolution can be regulated in the way it is used in the classroom.

Delivering a speech as the chairman of the occasion, the Coordinating Dean of the KNUST Obuasi campus, Professor Richard Boamah, said the digital revolution holds immeasurable potential but particular attention must be paid to how it is used in education.

He stressed that its use must be to enhance learning experiences and for the well-being of students and teachers and not to their detriment.

He said, “We must remember to keep the needs of the learner paramount and note that online teaching or connections are not a substitute for human interaction but to complement it.”

Professor Boamah again talked about the importance of STEM education saying that the current global economy is knowledge-based and science-driven hence there is a high demand for Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and ICT skills.

He said Ghana alone is expected to offer 9 million digital jobs and nearly 4 billion dollars in revenue potential by 2030. In view of this, he said Ghana requires massive infrastructure, social and knowledge capacity development to meet this expectation.

Source: Ghana Web

Corruption Fight: ‘Hold governments accountable based on their manifesto promises’

Mrs Beauty Emefa Narteh, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), has advised Ghanaians to hold governments accountable in terms of their fight against corruption based on their manifesto promises.

‘The best way to assess whether a government is showing commitment to the fight against corruption is to weigh its activities in power against the promises it made on the issue in the manifesto,’ she said.

Mrs Narteh said this on Friday at the Ghana News Agency’s Tema Industrial News Hub platform on the fight against corruption.

‘Over the years, we see political leaders claiming to have fought against corruption more than their predecessors, but as a coalition, we look at what the data says.’

She said concerns had been raised severally on the normalisation of corruption in Ghana, which unfortunately had made it endemic, hence that issue must not be swept under the carpet.

Mrs Narteh said data recently collected by the Ghana Statistical Service, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in the Ghana Integrity of Public Services Survey painted a worrying picture of corruption in Ghana.

The Afro Barometer Report also noted that more than 50 per cent of those surveyed had a perception that corruption was a problem at the presidency, which did not auger well for its fight.

She said for instance the New Patriotic Party (NPP), in its Election 2020 Manifesto, dubbed: ‘Leadership of Service: Protecting Our Progress, Transforming Ghana for All,’ on the sub-theme ‘Governance, Corruption, and Public Accountability,’ said it would continue to improve the financing of governance and anti-corruption ministries, departments and agencies to carry out their duties.

The institutions include the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Office of the Auditor General, and the National Commission for Civic Education, CHRAJ and the Economic and Organised Crime Organisation, to enable them to recruit, train, and retain dedicated staff to support the fight against corruption.

It also promised to provide resources for the Right to Information Commission to effectively operationalise the Right to Information Law to aid the fight against corruption.

Based on those promises, among other things, citizens had a reference point to assess whether the NPP-led government had fulfilled its promises to ensure corruption and related activities were nipped in the bud.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ahuofe Patri opens up about depression, scariest movie she ever shot, broken heart

Famed Ghanaian actress and model, Priscilla Opoku Agyeman, also known as Ahuofe Patri, recently broke the mold when she appeared on “Ride and Chat.” During the episode, she candidly discussed her rise to fame, success stories, vulnerabilities, and real-life experiences.

She underlined the importance of open communication among young people with trusted family members because depression is prevalent in this day and age.

Additionally, because it doesn’t simply affect celebrities, it is also possible for their admirers to experience it as a result of the glitz and glamour displayed on social media. She also showed her strong attitude about depression by not acknowledging its existence.

She cited the film “The Big Six” as being the most difficult she had ever shot, particularly the frightening cemetery sequence. This statement exemplifies the difficulties actresses must overcome to pursue their artistic goals.

Additionally, it demonstrates how adaptable she is as an actress because she ventures outside of her comfort zone to give engaging performances.

Additionally, she admitted that losing her mother was the first time she truly experienced a broken heart, “My heart was shattered when I lost my mother.”

Source: Ghana Web

Joseph Awinongya Jr. called to USA boxing national youth team

Ghanaian-US-based young boxing prodigy Joseph Awinongya Jr. has been invited to join the United States of America (USA) boxing national youth team.

Awinongya Jr., who is fondly known as ‘Jojo,’ is considered one of the top boxing prospects in the USA, having so many junior titles to his credit at the age of 15.

Jojo is expected to join some of the USA’s young boxers later this month as they prepare for the boxing world youth tournament.

Jojo who is currently the No.1 ranked 154lbs Youth boxer in the USA, has received congratulatory medals and souvenirs from the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council.

The 19-time USA National Champion has undoubtedly made a name for himself in both the boxing world and the academic arena.

Some titles won by Jojo include the Silver Gloves National Championship in 2017 and 2018, the St. Louis National Championship, the Junior Olympic National Championship, the Wisconsin National Championship, and the USA National Championship, all on multiple occasions.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Akufo-Addo attends 78th United Nations General Assembly, G77 Summit and IAEA General Conference

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Cuba, H. E. Miguel Mario Diaz-Canal Bermudez left Ghana to participate in a meeting of the G77+China on the theme, Summit of Heads of States and Government on the Current Development Challenges: The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation,” scheduled to be held from 15th to 16th, September, 2023 in Havana, Cuba.

From Cuba, President Akufo-Addo will from 17th to 22nd September 2023, participate in the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. He is expected to deliver his statement to the Assembly on Wednesday, 20th September 2023.

At the invitation of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr Rafael Mariano Grossi, President Akufo-Addo will then travel to Vienna, Austria on Monday, 25th September, 2023, to participate in the 67th regular session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Atoms of Peace Speech on 26th September, 2023.

The President was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and officials of the Presidency and Foreign Ministry.

President Akufo-Addo will return to Ghana on Wednesday, 27th September, 2023, and in his absence, the Vice President, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, shall, in accordance with Article 60(8) of the constitution, act in his stead.

Source: Ghana Web