Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Compound might defeat African sleeping sickness, clinical trial beginning this month

26.08.2005


One of the most devastating diseases in sub-Saharan Africa almost disappeared in the late 1950s. That disease, African sleeping sickness, or trypanosomiasis, largely succumbed to heroic public health efforts -- including relocating entire villages. But in the past several decades, because of post-colonial turmoil, the catastrophic illness has come back to ravage parts of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan and other countries. In some regions, the tsetse fly-borne infection rivals or exceeds the toll AIDS takes.



Trypanosomiasis is passed from human to human by tsetse fly bites. It produces fever, lymph nodes inflammation, eventual impairment of the brain and nervous system in its late stage and, if not treated, death. The World Health Organization has estimated that more then 300,000 people are infected, and more than 60 million living in the region are at risk.

Now, real hope for a better treatment is on the horizon, based on research conducted in part at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In Phase II clinical trials, a new oral drug, DB289, demonstrated safety and high effectiveness in subjects with the early stage of sleeping sickness. Scientists are launching a Phase III trial this summer involving for the first time hundreds of patients who will be treated with the drug.


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting the work, which is being led by Dr. Richard R. Tidwell, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UNC School of Medicine.

"This is very exciting time for us and the international consortium we pulled together to develop the first drug made to specifically combat this terrible re-emerging disease," Tidwell said. "The compound DB289 will be the first new drug for early stage (blood stage) African sleeping sickness in 50 years, and the only oral drug that’s ever been specifically developed for it."

Oral administration is important for treating the disease which occurs in villages where it can devastate afflicted populations, he said. Small villages do not have access to clinics or trained staff that can give injections or administer drugs intravenously.

"Immtech International, Inc. of Vernon Hills, Ill., a pharmaceutical company and a contributor to this drug development effort, has an exclusive, worldwide license to DB289 and related compounds developed by the UNC-based scientific consortium for African sleeping sickness and other devastating diseases such as TB, which together affect millions of people annually," Tidwell said. "Besides DB289, several potential drug candidates in early development appear to be promising for treating late stage African sleeping sickness, which occurs when the parasite over time enters the brain."

The new drug candidates are active because they can cross the blood-brain barrier, a biological wall that protects the nervous system naturally but can block beneficial drugs, he said. Work is also progressing rapidly on a new drug for drug-resistant malaria, another major threat in developing countries.

The UNC-led Consortium to Develop New Drugs for Protozoan Diseases established an advisory board chaired by Dr. Frederick Sparling at UNC, with Drs. Terry Shapiro at Johns Hopkins University, Ann Moore at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Thomas Brewer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as board members. Laboratories involved in the discovery of the new drug candidates are run by internationally known scientists including Drs. David Boykin and David Wilson at Georgia State University, Michael Barrett at the University of Glasgow, Raymond Mdachi at Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute and Steven Meshnick and J. Ed Hall of UNC. Scientists also closely involved are Drs. Simon Croft at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Reto Brun and Christian Burri at the Swiss Tropical Institute.

"New drugs for illnesses in developing countries often fly beneath the profit radar of large pharmaceutical companies," Tidwell said. "That’s because large companies require a high return on their investments, which means they don’t have sufficient incentives to develop low-cost drugs. Despite being one of Africa’s most prevalent and economically devastating illnesses, sleeping sickness is definitely one of those that has been neglected. For that reason, we decided to put this consortium together, and that’s why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was very interested in supporting our work."

The group has since become one of the models for public-private partnerships to discover and develop drugs for poorer countries or neglected diseases, Tidwell said.

"We have been able to reduce the cost of drug discovery to a fraction of the cost it would take a large drug company to do it, but we’re not cutting corners, and we’re using some of the best technology and scientists in the world to accomplish these goals," he said.

Dr. Carol Olson, vice president and chief medical officer of Immtech, said she and colleagues started the Phase III clinical trial this month. The new pivotal trial will involve approximately 250 patients in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan. Angola will be included if a recent outbreak there of the Ebola-like Marburg virus remains under control.

"The Swiss Tropical Institute will be responsible for selecting patients and carefully monitoring the trials," said Olson, who helped design and will oversee the study. She is an infectious disease expert who retired after a long career with Abbott Laboratories.

"We’re trying to improve the lives of these patients by treating the disease early on in the local villages before it progresses to the terminal brain stage," the physician said. "When a drug works and helps a lot of people, that’s when all our hard work really pays off, and we can be proud of our efforts."

Three years ago, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases presented its Jimmy and Roselyn Carter Humanitarian Award to Bill and Melinda Gates. That day, a talk by former President Jimmy Carter about the work Roselyn and he did in Africa inspired Olson to work on deadly but neglected illnesses, she said.

"What goes ’round, comes ’round," Olson said. "We have a real opportunity with DB289 and other drug candidates in the pipeline to help solve some very difficult health problems affecting millions of people in developing countries."

David Williamson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

nachricht The strange double life of Dab2
10.01.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>