Texas scientist leading Malaria drug project; Coyote attacks Colorado woman; Squirrel attacks Florida man; four Horses in Texas diagnosed with Rabies this year; and Rabies reports from New York, and North Carolina (3).

Dr. Meg Phillips and President Kikwete of Tanzania.

Global June 2011 mmv.org: Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) Press Release – His Excellency President Kikwete of Tanzania presented the coveted MMV Project of the Year 2010 award to Prof. Meg Phillips and her collaborators on the first day of the MMV Stakeholders’ Meeting. The award was presented in recognition of the international team’s impressive progress to rapidly bring DHODH inhibitors towards clinical testing. Dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) is one the hottest malaria drug targets under investigation today. The University of Texas Southwestern’s project, led by Prof. Meg Phillips, set out to discover and develop targeted inhibitors able to hit this enzyme and stop the parasite in its tracks. From the very outset, scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern knew they had found something special in DHODH. Unlike other species, including humans, Plasmodium species are completely reliant on this enzyme for survival. Additionally, due to biological differences between the parasite and man with respect to the enzyme, scientists can be confident that a medicine targeted at Plasmodium DHODH will not have the same effect in humans.

A series of molecules known as the triazolopyrimidines were identified via a high throughput screen of the University of Texas Southwestern’s compound library and later identified by chemists as molecules with great antimalarial potential. Select molecules from the series are now undergoing preclinical tests to identify which candidate should move forward. The results are promising and suggest the molecules are long lasting and active against the blood-stage of P. falciparum. Based on this we already know that, if successful, the final medicine could be delivered as a once-a-day dose. If all goes according to plan we could hope to see a DHODH inhibitor available and saving the lives of people suffering from malaria in the next 5-6 years.

“Understanding the Plasmodium DHODH has been a difficult process. The challenges faced at every turn while researching this enzyme over the last 5 years have made it a really intellectually stimulating project.” Dr Ian Bathurst, MMV Project Director. “In the future I hope that we see a compound out there in the clinic treating people – that would be the coolest thing that could happen in my entire career.” Prof. Meg Phillips, University of Texas Southwestern. “We wish to commend this group of dedicated scientists led by Prof. Phillips for joining forces to develop a new and innovative medicine for malaria.” Dr David Reddy, CEO, MMV.

Colorado 06/07/11 kktv.com: by Alyssa Chin – A Colorado Springs woman is still shaken up after being attacked by a coyoteright behind her west side condo near Fillmore and Mesa. Kateri Kerwin said during the attack her fight or flight instinct kicked in. She wants other people to be on the lookout for this dangerous and potentially sick coyote. Kerwin had just finished a round of treatment for breast cancer and is now also recovering from this wild coyote attack. “I was hysterical. The first bite you’re just in shock and it’s just searing pain,” Kerwin said. Friday afternoon Kerwin was right outside her condo gardening with a friend who flew in to help with her breast cancer recovery. Her friend walked away, and Kerwin noticed a coyote just inches from her face. “We looked at each other and I looked at his body and then he just pounced,” Kerwin said. The coyote bit her twice before she could fight it off with a bag of potting soil, giving her just enough time to get to the stairs. Several reports say this animal has been spotted a number of times near the Fontmore area. (For complete report go to                                        http://www.kktv.com/news/headlines/Colorado_ Springs_Woman_Attacked_By_Coyote_In_Her_Backyard_123435274.html )

Florida 06/08/11 palmbeachpost.com: by Frank Cerabino – Fritz Pettrak knows what it’s like to be attacked by a squirrel. Which, as it turned out, wasn’t half as bad as the financial attack that followed. The 51-year-old West Palm Beach man came face to face with an irate squirrel standing in his carport one morning last month. “I looked at him, and he came closer,” Pettrak said. “Then he jumped at me and scratched my bare leg.” Pettrak didn’t know what to make of his bloody wound or the squirrel, who was still itching for a fight. “Then he jumped at me and scratched me again, so I kicked him real good.” With the squirrel crouching in the hedges, Pettrak dashed back into his house to get his BB gun. “Bing. I shot him. He falls down and goes underneath the fence into my neighbor’s yard,” Pettrak said. So with gun in hand, Pettrak knocked on his neighbor’s door to ask permission to hunt the attack squirrel. “I said, ‘Hey, I have to find this squirrel, because they might need to check it for rabies.'” Pettrak found the squirrel in the neighbor’s backyard, and shot it again. But the wily squirrel got away. Pettrak went to his doctor that afternoon, where he got a tetanus shot and advice to call the Palm Beach County Health Department. “We err on the side of caution,” said health department spokesman Tim O’Connor. “If there was any question, we recommend getting the rabies series of shots. “They told him it was highly unlikely for a squirrel to have rabies, but not impossible,” O’Connor said. “Any warm-blooded animal is susceptible to rabies.” Pettrak said the health department advised him that he would have to go to a hospital emergency room to get the first rabies shot, and then he could receive the rest of the series from the department. (For complete report go to http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/cerabino-squirrel-attack-leads-to-uneventful-but-expensive-1527365.html )

Texas 06/07/11 vanzandtnewspapers.com:  According to an article published in the Van Zandt Newspapers this week, a 30-day-old foal in Van Zandt County has tested positive for rabies. So far this year, four horses in the state of Texas have been diagnosed with rabies.

New York 06/08/11 patch.com: by Plamena Pesheva – Have you seen a stray cat with short hair that was solid black in color near the main entrance of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Park in Yorktown? The Westchester County Department of Health issued a rabies alert today to residents who may have had contact with the cat prior to Tuesday, June 7. Tuesday morning, officials captured the cat, which was observed acting aggressively near the main entrance, and submitted for rabies testing. Test results confirmed the cat was rabid, officials said. Anyone who believes they or a pet may have been in contact with this cat, should contact the Westchester County Department of Health immediately at (914) 813-5000 to assess the need for rabies treatment.

North Carolina 06/08/11 the-dispatch.com: A dead fox found in Thomasville has become Davidson County’s eighth rabies case of the year. The fox was found in the yard Monday, although it had been there since Saturday, according to a press release from the Davidson County Health Department. There was an unvaccinated dog on the premises that has been destroyed. There was no human exposure reported.

North Carolina 06/08/11 witn.com: The Hyde and Onslow County Health Departments have reported three confirmed case of rabies this week.  The Hyde County Health Department reports a confirmed case of rabies in Hyde County on Germantown Road in the Scranton community after a feral cat attacked a resident of that community.  The resident shot and killed the cat and called Hyde County Sheriff’s Department, who contacted Hyde County’s Animal Control Contract Officer. The tests came back positive for rabies. The Onslow County Health Department has confirmed two cases of rabies within the last week.  A rabid fox bit a four-year-old boy and the child’s family dog on Dewitt St. Thursday. On Friday, a rabid raccoon attacked a woman in Richlands.

North Carolina 06/07/11 witn.com: Beaufort county has four confirmed rabies cases this year, and may now have a fifth case.  Two raccoons and two foxes have tested positive for rabies in the county, prompting the county health department to issue a warning. Tuesday morning, Animal Control was called out to Pamlico Plantations in Beaufort County for a raccoon that wouldn’t leave a woman’s porch. The raccoon has been sent to the lab in Raleigh.  If it tests positive for rabies, and Chief Animal Control Officer Sandy Woolard expects it will, it will be the fifth confirmed cases this year.

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