If you live in Europe, you may never have heard of 'neglected diseases' from Trypanosomatidic infections. However, in countries like Brazil or Sudan these diseases are endemic.
Neglected diseases are conditions that inflict severe health burdens on the world's poorest people, and they are said to be 'neglected' because they are often overlooked by drug developers. Leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and chagas disease represent a huge problem in the lives of people who are affected. Existing drugs to treat them are simply inadequate, presenting problems like inefficient delivery, insufficient efficacy, excessive toxicity and increasing resistance. Experts say that new drugs are urgently needed to address the problem.
NMTRYPI ('New Medicines for Trypanosomatidic Infections') a consortium of nine EU academic institutes and four SMEs, recently launched a programme to answer this call by optimising anti-trypanosomal drugs. The NMTRYPI partners are already well familiar with the anti-trypanosomal drugs in question because they were previously responsible for discovering them. Now, they will build on that work by attempting to progress the lead compounds in these drugs as well as screening fungal natural products and Sudanese medicinal plants to discover new lead compounds for development.
Over the next three years, NMTRYPI's interdisciplinary team will use a common drug discovery platform, established by experts in their respective fields, to develop drug leads which may be used in combination with other drugs. The partners will also work to develop pharmacodynamic biomarkers that enable the proteomic profiling of compound efficacy and early identification of drug resistance. The platform used by NMTRYPI enables high throughput screening of compound libraries, leads to candidate drugs development, proof of concept testing, and toxicology and safety testing. It will ultimately allow the NMTRYPI team to translate drug leads into drug candidates to enter the international drug development pipelines.
Neglected diseases like leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and chagas disease are most prevalent in tropical climates, particularly in areas with unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, sub-standard housing and little or no access to health care. Unfortunately, neglected diseases can often also lack visibility because they usually do not cause dramatic outbreaks that kill large numbers of people. Rather, they usually exact their toll over a longer period of time, leading to crippling deformities, severe disabilities and/or relatively slow deaths.
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For more information, see cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/109924_en.html