A new compound may offer an effective drug candidate against the deadly tropical infection, Chagas' disease say researchers from Brazil. They report their findings in the August 2010 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
Chagas' disease is an infection caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and it affects approximately 18 million people and causes up to 50,000 deaths per year in tropical regions of the world. Human infection occurs through contact with contaminated feces or urine from infected insects, blood transfusions, contaminated food, and birth canal transmission. In areas where the disease is endemic, such as Mexico and Argentina, up to 30% of infected patients may develop cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems.
The current drug used to treat Chagas' disease, benznidazole, is effective when treating acutely infected patients, however, it is less so when dealing with chronic infections and poses severe side effects in elderly patients.
In this study researchers identified a compound against T. cruzi and found it not only inhibited cell division, but it was also a very effective against T. cruzi even at very low doses. Additionally, it was 340 times more toxic to parasites than mammalian cells as well as more effective than benznidazole in all experiments.
"This compound was demonstrated to have a fast antiparasite effect, decreasing its viability and invasion capacity and leading to an apoptosis-like death," say the researchers. "Due to its high efficacy in vivo, it could be an alternative treatment for Chagas' disease."
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