Drug Development

Chagas disease, Human African Trypanosomiasis, and schistosomiasis are neglected parasitic diseases for which new treatments are urgently needed. To identify new chemical leads, we screened the 400 compounds of the Open Access Malaria Box against the cysteine proteases, cruzain (Trypanosoma cruzi), rhodesain (Trypanosoma brucei) and SmCB1 (Schistosoma mansoni), which are therapeutic targets for these diseases. Whereas just three hits were observed for SmCB1, 70 compounds inhibited cruzain or rhodesain by at least 50% at 5 μM.
About 7000 rare, or orphan, diseases affect more than 350 million people worldwide. Although these conditions collectively pose significant health care problems, drug companies seldom develop drugs for orphan diseases due to extremely limited individual markets. Consequently, developing new treatments for often life-threatening orphan diseases is primarily contingent on financial incentives from governments, special research grants, and private philanthropy.