Samantha Michaels

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This week we profile a recent publication in ACS Infectious Diseases from the lab of
Dr. Kayode Ojo at the UW Department of Medicine. Pictured is lead author, Samantha A. Michaels.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

My laboratory research is focused on studies aimed at better understanding of the molecular biology and role of specific serine threonine protein kinases in signaling events essential for cell survival. Protein kinases mediate a diverse set of cellular functions and have been identified as attractive molecular targets for new drug development against eukaryotic pathogens. This has been the basis of our research into the development of novel, robust, safe and affordable therapeutic agents that will treat debilitating parasitic diseases like Giardiasis. Giardiasis is a neglected parasitic diarrheal disease that is particularly associated with poverty. Giardia lamblia is a waterborne intestinal parasite and etiologic agent of giardiasis, a major contributor to the global burden of diarrheal diseases. Treatment of Giardiasis is challenged by limited available drugs and increasing resistance to these agents.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

In this manuscript we discuss emerging drug development tools that can be used to accelerate development of alternative therapeutic options for giardiasis. This includes physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling coupled with optical imaging to visualize and quantify the organ burden of a luciferase expressing Giardia lamblia, in a non-destructive mouse model. These tools can be used to verify association between parasite colonization intensity and experimental drugs efficiency in various regions of the gut for prioritizing and selecting inhibitors for further development.

What are the next steps for this research?

We are currently screening Pharmaceutical libraries using these tools to select compounds that could be further developed as alternatives to current giardiasis treatments.

This work was funded by:

Grants from Washington Research Foundation and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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