Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New drug prospect offers hope against hookworm infections

Date:
July 4, 2012
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
A drug candidate that is nearing clinical trials against a Latin American parasite is showing additional promise as a cure for hookworm, one of the most widespread and insidious parasites afflicting developing nations.

Hookworm.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - San Francisco

A drug candidate that is nearing clinical trials against a Latin American parasite is showing additional promise as a cure for hookworm, one of the most widespread and insidious parasites afflicting developing nations, according to a collaborative study at UCSF and Yale University.

The drug candidate, known by the scientific name K11777, is under development at UCSF and is targeted to enter clinical trials in the next one to two years to treat Chagas disease, a potentially fatal parasitic disease common to Latin America.

In the current study, researchers at the UCSF Center for Discovery and Innovation in Parasitic Diseases and the Yale University School of Medicine tested K11777 both in culture and in hamsters against the parasite Ancylostoma ceylanicum, one of several species of hookworm that afflict as many as 1.2 billion people worldwide.

The compound, which works by inhibiting cysteine proteases -- key enzymes in the parasite's gut that help digest its blood meal -- proved more than 90 percent effective in a single oral dose and completely cured hamsters of hookworm in two doses, according to a paper being published July 3, 2012 in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The studies are the first step in assessing whether this class of drugs could be effective against hookworm in humans, either alone or in combination with current therapies, according to senior author Conor Caffrey, PhD, a senior scientist at the UCSF center and researcher in the UCSF Department of Pathology.

"The harbinger of concern is that for worm parasites of cattle and sheep, there is rampant resistance to the same or similar drugs that are currently being used to treat humans," Caffrey said. "Up to now, these have performed reasonably well but we're starting to hear reports of lower effectiveness, so we're working hard to identify new drug candidates before the inevitable happens."

Among parasitic diseases, hookworm infection is second only to malaria as a cause of disability worldwide. While not usually fatal, the infection is debilitating, slowing children's development and causing or exacerbating iron-deficiency anemia, which can be serious in young children and pregnant women, especially in those who already are undernourished.

Hookworm spreads when larvae from human waste penetrate human skin via moist soil, most commonly in underdeveloped areas where children go barefoot.

Among the surprises in the study was the potency of the compound against these worms. After starting with multiple doses, the team steadily cut back until they realized they had 90 percent effectiveness in one dose.

Because the current drugs, mebendazole and albendazole, are generally given as a single oral dose to treat the infection in humans, this level of potency was exactly what the researchers needed to consider it as a possibility for humans, Caffrey said.

If it proves safe and effective in humans, that single-dose therapy could be a potent new tool in the arsenal against hookworm and other worm parasites, providing a new solution that could be delivered using distribution systems already in place in under-developed conditions, according to the paper.

Even if K11777 does not end up as a new therapy, the discovery opens the door to developing cysteine protease inhibitors as a new class of drugs to treat hookworm and, perhaps, other intestinal nematode infections, Caffrey said. This also could have ramifications for treating similar parasites in the animal health industry.

The research and paper were jointly performed by Caffrey and two other researchers: Jon J. Vermeire, PhD, and Lorine D. Lantz of the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Infectious Diseases, at Yale University School of Medicine.

The research was supported by the Sandler Foundation, the Yale Child Health Research Center and by the NIH grant K22A09476. The researchers declare no competing interests in the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Francisco. The original article was written by Kristen Bole. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jon J. Vermeire, Lorine D. Lantz, Conor R. Caffrey. Cure of Hookworm Infection with a Cysteine Protease Inhibitor. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2012; 6 (7): e1680 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001680

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "New drug prospect offers hope against hookworm infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120704021829.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2012, July 4). New drug prospect offers hope against hookworm infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120704021829.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "New drug prospect offers hope against hookworm infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120704021829.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins