The 2020 winner of the Ōmura Award for original article goes to the authors of an outstanding paper on the development of a practical method for the identification of bioactive components from fungal cultures, entitled ‘Enhanced dereplication of fungal cultures via use of mass defect filtering’ by Paguigan et al. . Efficient and accurate dereplication of antibiotic substances from crude extracts is a critical aspect of natural product discovery. The study by Paguigan et al. outlines a robust strategy for this using heated electrospray ionisation to save chromatography time and couples the approach with mass defect filtering to rapidly identify structurally related components within a complex sample (Fig. 1). Mass defect filtering is a data mining technique that can be applied after an active component is identified to look for related substances that share a central core. The method is used in other areas of pharmacology, notably drug metabolism studies, and can be applied retrospectively to high-resolution mass spectrum ion-scan datasets once a central core is identified to study related secondary metabolites. The authors demonstrate the combined approach presented is robust by demonstrating its ability to detect a wide range of secondary metabolites from fungal cultures. The studies are well described, and the paper is an excellent read, especially for those interested in learning about dereplication approaches to identify bioactive substances from complex mixtures.
The Editorial Board of The Journal of Antibiotics has given the 2020 JA Ōmura Award to Andy Crump for an outstanding review article entitled “Ivermectin: enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug continues to surprise and exceed expectations” . In 2015, work on ivermectin by Satoshi Ōmura and William C. Campbell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of a novel therapy against parasitic roundworm infections. While there are many excellent review papers on the discovery, development, and success of ivermectin as a drug against onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis, this review particularly focused on yet unsolved puzzles surrounding the mechanism of action and ivermectin’s vast future potential to combat other diseases that threaten human health worldwide. Ivermectin is known to induce paralysis of somatic muscles in parasites by disrupting glutamate-gated chloride channels, which do not exist in mammals. Ivermectin has also minor effects on γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, but in mammals GABA receptors and neurons are restricted to the central nervous system. As ivermectin is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier, it remains safe for human use. However, several mysteries remain. For instance, no ivermectin-resistant parasites have emerged in the human population for over 30 years, although resistant parasites have rapidly appeared in treated animals. Despite a plasma half-life of around 12 h, the levels of dermal microfilariae were reduced for a long time after ivermectin administration, and remained extremely low for about 12 months, suggesting the involvement of other mechanisms such as immunoregulation. In addition to onchocerciasis, strongyloidiasis, and lymphatic filariasis, increasing evidence indicates that ivermectin can kill malaria, leishmania, and African Trypanosoma parasites as well as their vectors. Moreover, ivermectin’s activities in a range of very different diseases, including viral infections, have generated interest and excitement in the global health research community. Just as the review article title says, ivermectin continues to surprise us all.
Paguigan ND, El-Elimat T, Kao D, Raja HA, Pearce CJ, Oberlies NH. Enhanced dereplication of fungal cultures via use of mass defect filtering. J Antibiot. 2017;70:553–61.
Crump A. Ivermectin: enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug continues to surprise and exceed expectations. J Antibiot. 2017;70:495–505.
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ABOUT THE WINNERS
The medal will be awarded to the first author of Original and Review article, and all of the authors will receive the certificates. Each first author’s short biography is as follows.
Original article Division; awardee Noemi D. Paguigan
Noemi Paguigan earned her B.S. in Chemistry in her native country at the University of the Philippines. She then came to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she earned a Ph.D. in Medicinal Biochemistry in 2017, where she studied bioactive compounds from fungi. The next step in her scientific journey of studying natural products was at the University of Utah as a postdoctoral chemist in the lab of Dr. Eric Schmidt. In 2021, she transitioned her skills in mass spectrometry to KBI Biopharma, Inc. in Durham, NC, where she is working currently.
Review article Division; awardee Andy Crump
Andy Crump graduated from universities in the UK and USA with degrees in Biological Sciences and Ecology/Ethology. This was followed by several years as a Research Biologist at Imperial College, London investigating the behaviour and biocontrol of Tsetse flies, the insect vectors of African trypanosomiasis. Since then, he has travelled, observed and reported, living and working in several countries in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands, amassing over 40 years experience in all aspects of Communications and Information Design, with a particular interest in visual and cultural literacy. He began his long-term interest in the ivermectin story while working with the UK’s Centre for World Development Education (CWDE) in the mid-1980s, prior to helping set up the audiovisual components of the Panos Institute in London in 1988. In 1991, to coincide with the 1992 Earth Summit, he published the world’s first Dictionary of Environment and Development and was also asked to set up an Image Library at the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) based at the WHO in Geneva. As TDR was the leading United Nations agency involved in the development, distribution and use of ivermectin to combat firstly Onchocerciasis and subsequently Lymphatic Filariasis, his TDR stint allowing him to continue studying ivermectin closely. He relocated to Tokyo in 2004 and has been involved with the Kitasato Institute ever since, working closely alongside Nobel Prize winner Prof Satoshi Omura, with whom he has published many ivermectin-related articles, TV and on-line productions. An accomplished author, photographer and multimedia producer, his communications work, especially in the science and health fields, is wide-ranging and diverse. His output has included an array of books, articles, multimedia products and interactive packages - including many on ivermectin. He has also undertaken photojournalism presentations, exhibitions, and various electronic publishing activities, including video, TV, CD-ROM and website projects. Clients have included several UN agencies, NGOs, industry, academia and European Union and Japanese government agencies. He was a Visiting Professor at Kitasato University (2004–2021), where he taught Japan’s first ever Science Communication course. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Keio University and St Luke’s International University in Tokyo and at Yamanashi University. He has been mentoring young Japanese researchers, especially those associated with Japan’s Medical Governance Research Institute (MEGRI), as well as researching, writing, editing and publishing in various leading scientific journals, and is a regular contributor to the Applied Technology publication.
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Lee, R.E., Yoshida, M. Winners of the 2020 JA Ōmura Awards for excellence. J Antibiot 75, 417–419 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41429-022-00535-5