Potential cure for Chagas disease

Murdoch research finds Chagas cure
Chagas disease is spread through bites from insects such as Rhodnius prolixus - the "kissing bug". Credit: Wikipedia

A Murdoch University international collaborative project has found a potential cure for the deadly Chagas disease.

Chagas affects eight to 10 million people in Latin American countries, with about 20,000 deaths attributed to the disease each year.

Professor Andrew Thompson from Murdoch's School of Veterinary and Biological Sciences led the parasite component of the study, which has stemmed from 25 years of research on parasite infections in humans.

" can affect a number of organs including the heart and intestine causing or affecting the heart or digestive system that may last for decades," Professor Thompson said.

"We have developed a new compound that cures Chagas disease in our mouse model of the disease; the next step is human trials."

Professor Thompson, in partnership with Australian drug research company Epichem, is investigating infections caused by trypanosome parasites, which cause a range of diseases in developing countries, including Chagas disease, sleeping sickness, and leishmaniasis.

The diseases are transmitted by different species of biting insects, and are increasingly present in Australia through migration of people and pets, exposure to defence force personnel and tourists and the emergence of similar diseases in .

"These diseases cause devastating illness and death in people," Professor Thompson said.

"There are few, if any drugs available that can cure these diseases, and in many cases the of the drugs are sometimes worse than the diseases they treat.

"There is clearly a desperate need for new, effective, non- to treat and cure these diseases."

The Murdoch-Epichem partnership was initiated after international aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres contacted Professor Thompson after reading about his research online and suggested Murdoch might be an ideal candidate for funding from Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) in Geneva, a non-profit agency directing funds from aid agencies and foundations for research on neglected diseases.

"We applied to DNDi for funding and were successful, and have received financial support from DNDi for the last six years, including recent substantial funding from an ARC Linkage grant with DNDi as the partner organisation," Professor Thompson said.

"The research has led to sustained, fruitful collaboration with Epichem, as well as more recently with the Centre for Drug Optimisation at Monash University who are key collaborators on the latest Linkage grant."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Major breakthrough in the diagnosis of parasitic diseases

Apr 27, 2010

Montreal, April 27, 2010 - Chagas disease is one of the most deadly parasitic diseases in the world. It affects more than 10 million people, primarily in the Americas. In South America alone it kills 50 000 people each year. ...

Parasite-induced genetically driven autoimmune chagas disease

Mar 29, 2011

Researchers have shown that the Trypanosoma cruzi agent of Chagas Disease (CD) invades host embryo cells and spreads its mitochondrial DNA (kDNA) minicircles into the host's genome. Dr. Antonio Teixeira and associates at the ...

Recommended for you

France to receive first Ebola patient

4 hours ago

France on Wednesday prepared to receive its first Ebola patient, as the World Bank warned the spiralling epidemic is threatening economic catastrophe in west Africa.

US scientist: Ebola unlikely to become airborne

5 hours ago

It is unlikely that Ebola would mutate to spread through the air, and the best way to make sure it doesn't is to stop the epidemic, a top U.S. government scientist told concerned lawmakers Wednesday.

User comments