Research Spotlight: New hope for a sleeping sickness cure

Small molecule inhibitor bound to active site of trypanosome Aurora kinase-!Decoding the genome of the Trypanosome parasite has led to new avenues of research for Larry Ruben, professor of biological sciences in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Ruben has spent his 26-year career studying Trypanosome, the parasite that causes sleeping sickness. His most recent work focuses on proteins required for late stages of cell division. Better understanding of these proteins could lead to development of new drugs to treat sleeping sickness.

“This new research can take advantage of cancer drugs directed against the cell cycle,” Ruben says. “Sleeping sickness affects the poorest populations in Africa who are unable to pay for expensive therapies. The ability to piggy-back onto therapies already being developed for other purposes is a huge advantage.”

Find more stories about path-breaking research in Dedman College in the Spring 2009 Dedman College newsletter, now in print. (Left, molecular model of a small molecule inhibitor bound to the active site of trypanosome Aurora kinase-1, provided by John Wise, SMU.)

Read more at Larry Ruben’s faculty website