Cure in sight for kissing bug's bite

Chagas disease, a deadly tropical infection caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by biting insects called "kissing bugs," has begun to spread around the world, including the U.S. Yet current treatment is toxic and limited to the acute stage.

In The , Galina Lepesheva, Ph.D., and her colleagues at Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College report curing both the acute and chronic forms of the infection in mice with a small molecule, VNI.

VNI specifically inhibits a T. cruzi enzyme essential for cell multiplication and integrity. In mouse models of Chagas disease, VNI achieved cures with 100 percent survival and without .

The discovery "represents a possible new way to combat a serious worldwide threat, for which there are currently few good therapeutic options," said Richard Okita, Ph.D., of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which helped support the research.

About 8 million people have been infected by T. cruzi, mostly in Latin America, but have been found across the southern United States, according to a recent report.

Because the parasite is in the insect's feces, it can also be transmitted through contaminated food and drink, through blood and from mother to child.

The most common symptom of the acute phase of the infection is fever, but the parasite also can trigger inflammation of the heart and brain, which can be fatal. In the chronic phase, Chagas disease most severely affects the heart and .

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UGA animal vaccine may slow deadly spread of Chagas disease

Feb 16, 2012

Chagas disease is the single most common cause of congestive heart failure and sudden death in the world. The devastating parasitic infection affects millions of people throughout Central and South America. But as global ...

FDA approves new test for Chagas disease

Nov 26, 2011

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Abbott Laboratories' ESA test for Chagas disease, which could be a useful tool in protecting the nation's blood supply from contamination.

Dogs may help collar Chagas disease

Jul 12, 2010

Chagas disease, for example, is caused by a parasite that roams with only limited control among the rural poor in Latin America. The main vector for the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the triatomine insect, or "kissing bug," ...

Recommended for you

Added benefit of vedolizumab is not proven

22 hours ago

Vedolizumab (trade name Entyvio) has been approved since May 2014 for patients with moderately to severely active Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis. In an early benefit assessment pursuant to the Act on the Reform of the ...

Seaweed menace may yield new medicines

Oct 22, 2014

An invasive seaweed clogging up British coasts could be a blessing in disguise. University of Greenwich scientists have won a cash award to turn it into valuable compounds which can lead to new, life-saving drugs.

User comments