A drug that can fight three deadly parasitic infections!

 The new drug, described as a 'new hope', can target an enzyme common to the parasites causing all three infections – sleping sickness, chagas disease and leishmaniasis.

Updated: Aug 12, 2016, 16:02 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: In a breakthrough findings, researchers have discovered a new drug that they claim can treat three deadly infections caused by three different pathogens.

The new drug, described as a 'new hope', can target an enzyme common to the parasites causing all three infections – sleping sickness, chagas disease and leishmaniasis – that affect millions of people in developing nations.

"It's a breakthrough in our understanding of the parasites that cause the three diseases, potentially allowing them to be cured," Jeremy Mottram, chair of pathogen biology at the Center for Immunology and Infection at the University of York, said in a press release. "This early phase drug discovery project will now move towards toxicity testing prior to human trials."

  • Sleeping sickness - also known as African trypanosomiasis, is caused by the Trypanosoma brucei parasite and is spread by the bite of the tsetse fly, leading to a serious infection in the brain and the meninges.
  • Chagas disease - also known as American trypanosomiasis, is caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite. The disease is transmitted to humans from a bite from an insect known as the triatomine bug. It can result in serious heart and digestive problems.
  • Leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite called leishmania protozoa and is spread by the bite of sandflies. The disease causes a wide range of symptoms ranging from anaemia and fever to the total destruction of the lining of the nose, mouth and throat.

For the study, researchers tested more than 3 million compounds made by the pharmaceutical company Novartis to identify one that would kill multiple parasites.

The team selected the compound, GNF6702, which they manipulated it to make it more potent, and was then used in mice with the three infections.

Test results then showed that GNF6702 could treat Trypanosoma brucei, Trypansosoma cruzi and Leishmania infections in mice.

The compound did not appear to have adverse effects in the rodents, and cleared the infections. However, the researchers said that it must be tested for safety before planning clinical trials to test efficacy in humans.

Their findings have been published in the journal Nature.