Leishmaniases and trypanosomiases are parasitic diseases which kill several thousands of people per year, mainly in developing countries. The effectiveness of existing treatments is being called into question owing to their toxicity and the emergence of resistance. A family of alkaloids, the quinolines, could be a worthwhile new therapeutic line to follow. Following on from the discovery of anti-leishmaniasis activity in natural quinolines, a research team of IRD, Pasteur Institute and CNRS scientists(1) carried out investigations on this chemical family. Some of the many quinolines synthesized in the laboratory have antiparasitic properties, especially against leishmaniases, others have antiretroviral activity. Biological trials in the mouse have already confirmed their properties and therapeutic efficacy.
Parasitic diseases, especially leishmaniases and trypanosomiases, kill hundreds of thousands of people every year in the world, mainly in the countries of the South. The most severe form of leishmaniosis (kala-azar, the visceral form), induced by Leishmania donovani and L. infantum, affects about 500 000 people per year and proves fatal if no treatment is given.
Although drugs do exist for treating these diseases, they are not always effective, owing to the appearance of resistant parasites and to the toxicity of the products. Moreover, administration of the available treatments against leishmaniases is mainly by injection, which means that patients have to go to hospital. Most people infected live in areas either far from health-care facilities or completely devoid of them. Research for new substances with potential as therapeutic agents is consequently necessary.
Hélène Deval | EurekAlert!
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