Fighting the war on infectious diseases
How will we find the cure for Swine Flu? Jon Mirsalis and biosciences team at SRI International are working on the development of drugs to fight infectious diseases like HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis and the Flu. Over the years, his team has helped save thousands of lives by moving drugs from the early discovery stage into human clinical trials.
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>>My name is John Mersalis assumed spelling I'm the managing director of the biosciences division at SRI International. That's a group of about 240 people. I do work on the development of drugs to treat a variety of infectious diseases.
Music One of the things that SRI does being a non-profit organization, we tend to focus on treatment of the diseases that the big pharmaceutical companies aren't putting as much effort into. Things like Malaria or HIV. If you look back in time in the 1960s many scientists said well the war on infectious disease is over and we've won because we have vaccines for all the viruses except the common cold and we have antibiotics for the bacteria. And then in rapid succession we saw the emergence of Legionnaires disease, Ebola, AIDS, SARS, West Nile, Bird Flu, Swine Flu and so I think people are beginning to realize that there is going to be no winning the war, it's just going to be battle after battle. I've been involved in a number of breakthroughs in infectious disease drugs over the years. I've been involved in moving a lot of drugs from the very early drug discovery stages where someone says, ah ha, this is really great, it kills Malaria in culture all the way into human clinical trials where we can see if it's actually going to work in human patients. I think the future is going to be a little bit uncertain in predicting what's going to happen with infectious disease. Certainly the search for vaccines goes on, the search for new antibiotics, anti-virals is progressing. As society we've made tremendous progress against diseases such as HIV but we have a lot to do as the recent Swine Flu epidemic shows. I am somewhat hopeful that mankind isn't going to be wiped out by an infectious disease but I do worry that every day almost you hear of a new disease emerging and I think that's one of the things that makes it exciting and fascinating and for someone like me who's an adrenaline junkie, you get a bit of a rush out of saying, you know, what can I do today to save mankind?
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