Kolkata: With drug resistance threatening the battle against kala azar, which afflicts 350 million in 88 countries, a group of Indian scientists has taken a giant step to develop a potential therapy by using tiny molecules present in the body.Around 65 percent patients in India have stopped responding to sodium stibogluconate - the drug of choice for the life-threatening visceral leishmaniasis or kala azar, says Neeloo Singh, senior principal scientist, Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow."Sodium stibogluconate is safe, effective and inexpensive. Kala azar is a poor man`s disease and therefore the drug was essential, but now the parasite has become resistant to it. Other drugs which are effective like amphotericin and miltefosine are expensive and toxic," Neeloo Singh told IANS.Provisional figures by the union health ministry show that kala azar claimed 11 lives and afflicted 7,776 people this year till July.Upping the ante against drug resistance, researchers at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) here have pioneered a new strategy to increase the cholesterol level in blood, that in turn significantly slashes the parasite`s numbers. It involves channelising some small molecules that are the direct products of genes.
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