Agilent Helps Researchers Link Three Parasitic Diseases

A while ago, I blogged about neglected tropical diseases.  Agilent recently helped researchers find a common treatment link for three of them.

These three diseases – all caused by parasites – are pretty frightening.

Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) is found mostly in Latin America, but affects more than 8 million people worldwide.  Its parasite can be spread by an insect known as the “kissing bug.”  More than 30 percent of victims develop cardiac arrest and heart failure from destruction of the heart muscle and nervous system.

Sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis) is found mostly in rural Africa, where it has caused several epidemics.  Spread mainly through the bite of the tsetse fly, the parasite can enter the brain and rapidly infect the central nervous system, causing confusion, behavioral changes and sleep disturbances.  It is fatal unless treated.

Leishmaniasis is found in the tropics, subtropics and southern Europe, where it causes 1 million new cases and 30,000 deaths every year.  Its parasite is spread by sandflies.  There are several different forms of the disease, which can cause skin lesions, swelling of the liver and spleen, and destruction of the lining of the nose, mouth and throat.

Together, these three diseases infect 20 million people around the world and result in 50,000 deaths every year.  Current treatments only work if taken immediately after infection, and can cause adverse side effects.

Scientists working with the Novartis Research Foundation studied more than 3 million different compounds for their effectiveness against these types of parasites.  Their equipment included an Agilent Zorbax analytical column, Agilent Infinity binary pump and Agilent Infinity high-performance degasser.

The team found one compound – GNF6702 – that not only killed all three parasites, but did not cause any damage to human cells.

Much more work needs to be done to convert GNF6702 into a usable drug.  But the researchers are hopeful that GNF6702 can be used to develop safer and more effective treatments for all three of these diseases.

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