Alan Fairlamb

Alan Hutchison Fairlamb CBE, FRSE, FLS (born 30 April 1947, Newcastle upon Tyne, England) is a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow, Professor of Biochemistry and Head of the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery at the University of Dundee, Scotland. He is also a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) -- an independent global programme of scientific collaboration co-sponsored by UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and WHO.

Professor Alan Fairlamb and his team study the protozoan parasites causing three different diseases - sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis. He was one of the 250 scientists involved in the genome sequencing of these parasites. [cite journal |author=Berriman M, Ghedin E, Hertz-Fowler C, "et al" |title=The genome of the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei |journal=Science |volume=309 |issue=5733 |pages=416–22 |year=2005 |pmid=16020726 |doi=10.1126/science.1112642]

In 1985, Alan Fairlamb discovered a unique thiol compound present in these parasites, and named it trypanothione. [cite journal |author=Fairlamb AH, Blackburn P, Ulrich P, Chait BT, Cerami A |title=Trypanothione: a novel bis(glutathionyl)spermidine cofactor for glutathione reductase in trypanosomatids |journal=Science |volume=227 |issue=4693 |pages=1485–7 |year=1985 |pmid=3883489 |doi=10.1126/science.3883489] This thiol metabolite is quite different from its human equivalent, glutathione. Trypanothione allows the parasites to fend off free radicals and other toxic oxidants produced by the immune system of the infected patient, and was shown to be vital for parasite survival and virulence. [cite journal |author=Krieger S, Schwarz W, Ariyanayagam MR, Fairlamb AH, Krauth-Siegel RL, Clayton C |title=Trypanosomes lacking trypanothione reductase are avirulent and show increased sensitivity to oxidative stress |journal=Mol. Microbiol. |volume=35 |issue=3 |pages=542–52 |year=2000 |pmid=10672177 |doi=10.1046/j.1365-2958.2000.01721.x] For instance, antimonials neutralize the Leishmania parasite’s antioxidant defence system, allowing the patient to clear the infection. [cite journal | author=Wyllie S, Cunningham ML, Fairlamb AH | title=Dual action of antimonial drugs on thiol redox metabolism in the human pathogen Leishmania donovani | journal=J. Biol. Chem. | volume=279 | issue=38 | pages=39925–32 | year=2004 | pmid=15252045 | url= | doi=10.1074/jbc.M405635200]

Since 2006, Alan Fairlamb has been co-director of the Drug Discovery Unit at the University of Dundee. The new centre, opened in 2005, has new facilities for high-throughput screening and medicinal chemistry. [ [ University hunts cure for parasitic infections] Tim Radford, The Guardian, Wednesday October 26 2005] These will take the drug discovery/development process further than any other UK university, to a stage where pharmaceutical companies will have sufficient data to move into the production stage.


External links

* [ Profile page at Dundee University, including publications list]

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