Understanding diseases in order to stamp them out

Pablo Sobrado is working on vaccines that could benefit people in the poorest parts of the world.

Pablo Sobrado is working on vaccines that could benefit people in the poorest parts of the world.

Millions of people worldwide suffer from tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and fungal infections, yet current treatment is expensive and minimally effective.

To combat these diseases, researcher Pablo Sobrado is developing drugs that may be able to help stop the illnesses in some of the poorest parts of the world.

“Our work is focused on understanding these diseases so that we can develop treatments that are not only effective, but affordable,” Sobrado said.

In addition to operating an infectious disease research program, Sobrado also serves on the steering committee of Virginia Tech’s Center for Drug Discovery and as the director of the center’s screening lab, located in the Fralin Life Science Institute. Formed in 2012, the center’s mission is to accelerate research that could lead to new treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, tuberculosis, fungal infections, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, diseases of the central nervous system, and parasitic diseases such as malaria and Chagas disease.

The screening lab provides expertise in development, application, and analysis of high-throughput screening assays for the identification of compounds with specific biological activity, such as enzyme or cell growth inhibition. The lab also enables chemists who have prepared hundreds to tens of thousands of compounds to test them for bioactivity against a variety of disease models and compare them against commercial chemical libraries or libraries of compounds from in-house research.

“Our main goal is to help the Virginia Tech community acquire preliminary data and provide the technical support to make their grant proposals more competitive,” said Sobrado. “Before the establishment of the screening lab, Virginia Tech scientists had to seek help from other centers or research groups out of state.”

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