BEACON TRANSCRIPT – New studies performed on animals show that the potent drug can treat three tropical diseases. Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and sleeping sickness could soon find their match if this drug will pass human trials.
The breakthrough took hard work. Three million compounds were tested. The findings were published in the journal Nature.
All three diseases mentioned above are caused by more or less the same pathogens. This makes scientists believe with one therapy they could cure all three diseases.
Sleeping sickness develops because of the Trypanosoma brucel, which is a parasite caused by the tsetse fly. The sickness has an official name, the Human African trypanosomiasis, but it is widely known as sleeping sickness, which refers to the coma resulted if the parasite breaks the brain barrier. It is mostly encountered in sub-Saharan Africa.
Chagas disease, officially known as American trypanosomiasis is spread around by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite. It makes the heart and digestive system to swell, which can lead to death. The “kissing” or “assassin” bug causes the parasite. It usually affects people in South America but is now common on other continents too.
Leishmaniasis develops because of the Leishmania parasites and it is caused by the bite of sandflies. It makes the body sick from a host of symptoms, some of which include anemia, nose, mouth and throat lining destruction, and others. It is mainly encountered in America, Africa, and Asia.
The three diseases together lead to the infection of twenty million people and kill approximately 50,000 people each year, according to the team of experts.
The medicines needed to treat these infections are expensive and often toxic. Many of them require an intravenous drip so they can’t be administered in poor regions.
Researchers tested 3 million substances, from the pharma company Novartis. In the end, they found the most effective ones which can kill all three parasites, in laboratory conditions.
One of them underwent thousands of changes to make the original substance twenty times more powerful.
The drug is codenamed GNF6702 and it can treat all three infections with tropical diseases in mice. Dr. Elmarie Myburgh, from the University of York, pointed out that the substance is special because for the first time it targets all three parasites. It will hopefully reach patients as soon as it passes the human trial phase.
Image Source – Wikipedia