Schistosomiasis Research Community

Published by MatTodd on 29 January 2006 - 12:22pm

Welcome, I'm Mat Todd, the community leader for schistosomiasis research. If you're looking for the PZQ project - shortcut here.

*Note that this community is not currently (2015) very active. For an excellent recent roundup of schisto research head to this open access edition of Future Med Chem edited by Conor Caffrey. There's an article there about the work Mat did on The Synaptic Leap too. To be in touch with others about NTDs you could also head to this G+ community.

Why Schistosomiasis is Important 

Schistosomiasis is one of the most burdensome of the neglected diseases, with 200 million people infected and 400 million people at risk. Infection is widespread with a relatively low mortality rate, but a high morbidity rate, causing severe debilitating illness in millions of people. The disease is often associated with water resource development projects, such as dams and irrigation schemes, where the snail intermediate hosts of the parasite breed. The drug of choice for the treatment of schistosomiasis is praziquantel (PZQ).

Join Us and Login

As a guest on The Synaptic Leap, you can browse and look all you want.  You must login and create a user profile for yourself if you want to participate. Once you are logged in you may begin collaborating with other scientists world-wide and become a part of the collective intelligence trying to help improve the drugs available for schisto. 

Get Involved with an Open Research Project 

See current projects for a list of our active open research projects.  You may learn more about these projects and learn how you can participate.  Or, you may "add a child page" (see the link at the bottom) to initiate and describe your own open research project for schistosomiasis.

If you're still in the brainstorming phase of starting a project, write a blog article to discuss your ideas with other scientists around the world also studying schistosomiasis. Working together, we can direct the research towards the most promising ideas.

You can also help shape and direct other schisto research ideas by reading and commenting on other community posts

Keep Up To Date with The Latest Schisto Information

To assist you with your schisto research we have pulled together a  research tools page for schisto as well as an RSS news feeds for schisto.  If you know of a useful tool that we don't have on the list, login and add a comment for others to see.  


Dear Mat

What about forming the isoquinoline ring using a chiral phenylethanolamine? The standard isoqunoline formation from phenylethylamines and aldehydes is called the Pictet-Spengler Isoquinoline Synthesis, and you can find reviews at Organic Reactions v6, p151 (1951) and J. Heterocycl. Chem. v8, p1007 (1971). We have done this reaction on phenylephrine with a variety of aldehydes and it works very well and gives good chiral induction. Both (R) and (S) 2-amino-1-phenylethanol are commercially available. Although they are very expensive from Aldrich, a couple of suppliers do claim to sell the material in bulk. Not sure if this will ever rival the cost of using praziquantel itself as the starting material as recently suggested by Craig but it might make an interesting project anyway.



MatTodd's picture

Nice idea, Wayne. Since this is a new route, I'm going to start a new thread here.



Dear Dr Todd,
RE: Google Tech Talks - Chemistry on Web
As an Industrial Chemist who never practiced (UNSW 88), I have instead spent my career on large scale web technologies. I have at my disposal technologies for large scale web computing and would be more than prepared to contribute these and time to the aims of this project were it feasible. 
In your Tech Talk you indicated that some problems in chemistry may be amenable to computational solution (Chess versus Molecules). I am pretty clear on how one would go about writing the optimisation / AI routines for chess and run it on a large scale network. I am much less so in chemistry (dated knowledge ...)
My question is what would be useful to the community (if anything) for computationally aided synthesis of molecules - in particular PZQ enantiomers. AI optimisation, yield calculations, thermodynamic models, simulations, experimental databases etc...
If there are some specific problems any links to prior work would be helpful. 
Much thanks,
Philip Haynes

MatTodd's picture

Thanks Philip. The mention I made of the analogy with chess and organic synthesis was intended to say that great strides have been made in computer science/software development that have not yet filtered down to organic chemistry. I would love to have modern methods applied to the thorny issue of synthesis design, but this does require a large chemical knowledgebase. My review on this area from 2005 gives more history of this area. I'm not sure of the nature of the web computing resources you're talking about, though, and how that could be applied to that area.
For the project we're doing here on schistosomiasis, we don't need help so much with synthetic design - partly because the molecules we're dealing with are so simple. However, the scientific area that we're really struggling with is (and will be) the synthesis of PZQ as a single enantiomer for a low price. We are going to be screening a number of catalysts for the relevant reactions. It would be great to have some predictive ability here to say what kinds of catalysts we ought to be looking at. At least if we obtain some hits (non-zero enantiomeric excesses) during catalyst screening it would be interesting to try to work out why those catalysts worked by examination of the relevant transition states for reactions. Does this sound interesting?
On a more general note there are some web interface things that are problematic with our new ELN, which is open source and therefore mutable. We're looking for someone interested in doing a development project with Drupal's FCK/TinyMCE editor - see here. We're also looking for someone to do some occasional maintenance of the site's Drupal core, if anyone out there is interested in helping out in ther spare time (e.g. need to upgrade to Drupal 7...)

Thanks Matt. I can see from your computer aided synthesis literature review, the organic chemistry community certainly doesn’t enjoy the richness of technologies available in the Open Source software community (unsurprisingly).

RE: PZQ catalyst choice. My note was to find out where I can help. If it is catalyst screening - so be it.
To start the project I have set up a project workspace & issues database at and  Over the next couple of weeks I will start developing a specification along with giving myself a chemistry refresher. I will also put up a bunch of questions to a) aid my understanding b) help provide context for new people and c) ensure what is required is well specified and helps to solve real problems.  

RE: ELN. I am not active in the PHP /Drupal community, but will ask around. For me in software development ELN like functionality is essentially a “solved problem”. I use Confluence and JIRA from Atlassian (and other toolsets). These tools find heavy usage in open source communities such as Apache (as they are free to the open source community). 

MatTodd's picture

Philip - sounds interesting. I followed one link and came to a password requirement. I guess I can create an account there, but I just thought I'd mention again that the project we're doing here is open - i.e. the fewer barriers to participation, the better. The hypothesis being that this helps speed up the science. That said, though, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with, and of course I or anyone else here can help answer questions. If you want to, please start a new daughter page somewhere relevant on this site, too, since we are at the moment discussing things on a rather general page.