Researchers might have found the answer for three deadly diseases that affect a large part of third world countries. The recent advances might transform into a new miracle pill that treats the infections.
Millions of people in the world, especially in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, die every year due to a series of neglected infections, such as sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, and Leishmaniasis. Safety tests are being made upon a new pill that could treat all of the diseases due to a common parasite between the infection and the host. The study’s findings were published on Monday in the journal Nature.
Therapies already exist for these infections. However, they tend to have secondary effects on the patients and are long-lasting processes unaffordable for low-income patients in precarious living situations.
Developing this miraculous pill could help save millions of lives around the world, especially young infants that suffer from the infections. Researchers discovered the parasites causing diseases belong to the kinetoplastids species.
The team of researchers from the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation was in charge of exploring and finding a compound that could kill the parasites, in a more efficient matter than current treatments.
Researchers discovered the parasites causing diseases belong to the kinetoplastids species, meaning they all had something in common and scientists could look for multiple cures. The team screened over 3 million compounds that they believed could kill the deadly parasites, which led them to GNF6702 a compound that was able to kill parasites in mice and human cells without harming them.
Researchers discovered the compound left no trace of any of the diseases in the cells that were treated, which was a great sign for a possible drug, especially because it didn’t harm the cells.
“What makes it unique is the fact it is targeting all three parasites. That’s the first time it has been done, so it’s quite special,” said Dr. Myburgh to BBC News.
Despite the advances, researchers think it would be hard to create just one pill for all of the diseases, given that the infections harm different parts of the human body and need to be treated differently. That’s why researchers are hoping to develop three different drugs that affect and work primarily on the part of the body that is affected.
Both investigators and physicians have agreed that the need for the new drug is high, especially because of the lives that are being lost due to the diseases and because of the side effects of the current treatments.
Three deadly infections
Chagas disease or America trypanosomiasis is a disease caused by a parasite called Trypansosoma cruzi, which affects the heart and the digestive system and in 30% of the cases patients go into cardiac arrest.
The Chagas parasite is mostly present in Latin America and has expanded to other continents. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 7 million people are infected by the disease. Sleeping sickness is caused by a tsetse fly that bites humans, the infection affects the human brain and leaves the patient in a coma. The disease is mostly found in Saharan Africa.
Leishmaniasis is caused by the bite of sandflies and affects the patient depending on the part of the body that is exposed. The effects of the infection can go from fever and anemia to the destruction of the lining of the mouth, nose, and throat. Leishmaniasis is mostly found in Africa, Asia, and both Americas.