Geneva/Boston (July 8, 2011) -- Today at the Neglected Tropical Diseases Meeting of the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID-NTD) in Boston, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) announced the first research and development project in its new helminth infection drug portfolio to address unmet needs of patients in Africa and Asia.
The project will assess the potential of the drug flubendazole to treat a highly neglected subset of helminth infections, notably co-infection of two of the three filarial diseases: onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (LF; elephantiasis), in co-infection with loiasis (African eyeworm or Loa loa). Existing treatments are inadequate and in some cases life-threatening.
The project is supported by a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
While remaining fully committed to kinetoplastid diseases (sleeping sickness, leishmaniases, and Chagas disease) DNDi is expanding its drug portfolio to include helminth infections, focusing specifically on filariasis, because in patients co-infected with filariasis and loa loa, the standard treatment of ivermectin, alone or in combination with albendazole, can result in brain dysfunction, coma, and potentially death.
The objective is to assess and reformulate flubendazole, which has proven highly active against adult filarial worms in animals and humans, into a safe, highly efficacious, and field-adapted macrofilaricidal drug candidate.
If successful, flubendazole would be highly useful for case management and in mass drug administration (MDA) programs to treat, control, and eliminate filarial infections, regardless of parasitic worm life stage. Current drugs primarily kill young worms whereas a macrofilaricide would kill adult worms.
"DNDi is focusing on developing a safe macrofilaricide to kill the adult worms with no severe adverse reactions," said Dr Shing Chang, Director of R&D at DND
|Contact: Oliver Yun|
Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative