The three tropical diseases can currently be treated but cost, toxicity and impracticality means millions of people in poor areas of the world can't access the drugs.
Three neglected tropical diseases caused by three different parasites could be eradicated by one drug giving hope to nearly 20 million people living in poor conditions and prevent 50,000 deaths each year.
Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness are three main infectious diseases caused by three parasites: Trypansosoma cruzi, Leishmania and Trypanosoma brucei. Up until now there are drugs to treat the symptoms but they are deemed expensive, toxic and impractical for people living in remote and poor regions.
The animal study was carried out by a number of collaborative teams from Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD), University of York, University of Washington and the University of Glasgow. The researchers tested three million compounds made by Novartis – a pharmaceutical company – in order to determine drugs that could kill multiple parasites, according to a BBC report.
The three diseases have a common weakness which the team were hoping to discover and develop a single class of drug for all three diseases. After testing the 3 million compounds, one was discovered to do just that – GNF6702. The team refined it to become more potent in it’s ability to bind to the parasite and stop it from functioning.
As this was tested on mice, a human test trial will commence once the toxicity levels are safe. If this works, it could save hundreds of thousands of lives affected by these common diseases especially bringing hope to those in poor area of Africa.
“It’s a breakthrough in our understanding of the parasites that cause the three diseases, potentially allowing them to be cured,” said Jeremy Mottram, from the University of York. “This early phase drug discovery project will now move towards toxicity testing prior to human trials.”
“Our data provide genetic and chemical validation of the parasite proteasome as a promising therapeutic target for treatment of kinetoplastid infections, and underscore the possibility of developing a single class of drugs for these neglected diseases.”
The details of the study were published in the journal Nature.