Professor Alan Fairlamb


Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Wellcome Principal Research Fellow

Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery, School of Life Sciences

Alan Fairlamb
On this page




+44 (0) 1382 385542


Biochemical Drug Targets in Parasites

Better, safer and affordable drugs are needed for neglected tropical parasitic diseases. My research interests cover the early aspects of the drug discovery process, including discovery of novel drug targets, their mechanistic and structural characterisation and their validation using genetic and chemical approaches. My studies on the modes of drug action and the mechanisms by which parasites acquire resistance to drugs such as the arsenical, melarsoprol, resulted in the discovery of trypanothione, a metabolite unique to trypanosomatid parasites responsible for human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas' disease and leishmaniasis. Trypanothione and its ancillary enzymes are attractive drug targets, because they play a central role in thiol-redox homeostasis, in defence against chemical and oxidative stress, in resistance to antimonial drugs and in the metabolism of deoxyribonucleotides and methylglyoxal. In particular, the unique biosynthetic enzyme, trypanothione synthetase, has been shown to be an essential and druggable target. My research team has also established that certain enzymes of folate, pterin and pyridoxal metabolism are attractive drug targets in trypanosomes. Currently we are investigating the modes of action of potential new therapies for trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis, including fexinidazole and PA-824.

View full research profile and publications


Award Year
Personal Fellowships / Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellowship 2011
Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology 2011
Personal Fellowships / Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellowship 2006
Commander of the British Empire (CBE) 2006
Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences 2005
International Science Prizes awarded since 1990 / Kitasato Microbial Chemistry Medal 2005
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 2001
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / The C.A. Wright Memorial Medal, British Society for Parasitology 1990
Fellow of Learned Societies and Colleges / Fellow of the Linnean Society 1989