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.
IRD researchers conducted ethno-pharmacological studies in line with this search, in South America. These scientists, working with researchers from the CNRS, the University of Paris-Sud and the Institut Pasteur (1), have thus discovered and studied alkaloids of the chemical family of the quinolines, doted with antiparasitic properties. The quinolines, obtained by chemical synthesis, are analogues of quinolines initially isolated from a Bolivian plant, Galipea longiflora (Rutaceae). Experiments conducted on mice infected by visceral leishmaniasis showed that oral administration of these quinolines was effective for treating this severe form of the disease (2).
Marie Guillaume | alfa
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