Dr Neils Quashie

Dr Neils Ben Quashie (University of Ghana)

Research title: Mechanisms of drug resistance in Malaria and identify new drug targets/ novel anti-plasmodia compounds

Research project: The malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, has developed resistance to most of the available antimalarial drugs. The main focus of my research therefore is to understand the mechanisms of drug resistance in this parasite and identify new drug targets/ novel anti-plasmodia compounds. I am also interested in infectious disease epidemiology, particularly in tracking resistant strains of P. falciparum.
In this direction, I am a member of a team that has been carrying out studies on the epidemiology of antimalarial drug resistance in Ghana since 1998. Data from our surveillance made available to the National Malaria Control Program was a major basis for the change in drug treatment policy in 2005.
We have developed the required tools for drug efficacy testing and are currently seeking for academic partners and pharmaceutical companies to collaborate with towards the discovery of new lead compounds for pre-clinical drug development. I have greater interest and expertise for identification and kinetic characterization of nutrients transporters in Plasmodium.
In order to stop the spread of artemisinin-resistant parasites, there is the urgent need to understand the mechanism of action of artemisinin. Since reports implicate haemoglobin in the metabolism of artemisinin, I use appropriate strategies including ‘labelled haemoglobin’ to investigate the role of this blood component in the mode of action of artemisinin. Other proposed mechanisms such as the role of FADH2/flavoenzymes and Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) are further investigated to enable firmer conclusion on the mechanism of action of artemisinin to be drawn.

Collaborator: Dr Julian Rayner, Malaria Programme, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, University of Cambridge

Read a spotlight on Neils' ongoing achievements here