The University of California, Santa Barbara announced today that it has donated all rights to a patent that covers the novel use of an established class of cardiovascular medicines as a potential new drug against a global parasitic disease. The Institute for OneWorld Health, a nonprofit pharmaceutical company based in San Francisco, will use the UCSB discovery and the wealth of data associated with the medicines to accelerate drug development for treatment of schistosomiasis.
Two UCSB researchers discovered that calcium channel blockers may prove to be an inexpensive alternative for controlling schistosome infection, a serious global health problem that afflicts more than 200 million people annually in developing nations. An estimated 200,000 people, many of them older children, die every year from schistosomiasis. Many more suffer chronic damage to vital organs, including the liver and bladder.
The inventors are Mark Walter, a research biologist, and Armand Kuris, professor of biology. "Calcium channel blockers look very promising for the treatment of schistosomiasis, which is a devastating disease," said Kuris, an expert in parasitology and associate provost of the College of Creative Studies. Physicians routinely prescribe calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure, correct abnormal heart rhythms, treat panic attacks and bipolar disorder, and prevent migraine headaches.
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