THE University of Dundee has received a grant of almost £3.7 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle the world’s deadliest diseases.

The Scottish university’s Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) works to identify lead compounds that can be developed into drugs to fight malaria and tuberculosis.

Professor Ian Gilbert, the DDU head of chemistry, said: “Malaria and tuberculosis kill hundreds of thousands of people every year and continue to affect tens of millions more, mainly in low- and middle-income countries.

“There is an urgent need to find new drugs that tackle infectious diseases such as these, and that is what drives the work of this research coalition.”

The University of Dundee will work alongside researchers from the University of Washington, the University of Chicago and the University of Campinas in the Structure-guided Drug Discovery Coalition (SDDC).

Professor Gilbert continued: “In this project we aim to develop potential lead compounds.

“Our starting points are high-quality drug targets, typically enzymes, which we can link to a compound that kills the malaria parasite or the TB bacterium.

“We use information such as the three-dimensional structures of these enzymes to design potential drugs.”

The World Health Organisation reported 241 million cases of malaria and more than 627,000 deaths in 2020 alone.

Similarly, more than 10 million worldwide fell ill with tuberculosis, with more than 1.5 million deaths.

New medicines are urgently required to overcome resistance to already existing treatments.

The research carried out by the SDDC brings together experts in protein production and structural biology who hope to tackle this problem.

Dr Beatrice Baragaña, leader of the malaria portfolio in Dundee’s DDU, said: “We are really pleased to receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on this important area of research.

“It is also great to be working alongside colleagues at the University of Washington, University of Chicago and UNICAMP to tackle these devastating diseases.”