Drug Companies Collaborate With DNDi Support To Develop Drug For African Sleeping Sickness

Researchers from Scynexis Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Anacor Pharmaceuticals in Palo Alto, Calif., sponsored by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, on Tuesday reported in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases that a new experimental drug kills the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness in mice and will enter human clinical trials this year, ScienceNOW reports (Leslie, 6/28).

Officially called human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), sleeping sickness “is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly … affects at least 30,000 people each year in central Africa and is lethal without treatment,” the Los Angeles Times notes. “Current drugs used for the disease require sophisticated diagnosis and drug infusions that are not typically available in the African regions most affected by trypanosomiasis, and the drugs themselves are frequently lethal,” the newspaper writes. While the disease is endemic in 36 central African countries, two-thirds of all cases are recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the newspaper (Maugh, 6/28).

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