New anti-malarial drug to combat toxoplasmosis

March 5th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by admin  

New York, March 5(IANS) A new anti-malaria drug, on the verge of clinical trials, promises succour for the estimated two billion people who suffer from toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a related parasite. The anti-malarial drug, researchers say, is as much as 10 times more effective than the standard medication used today to combat toxoplasmosis.

The disease, “probably the most common parasitic infection in the world”, is carried by cats and targets those who have immature immune systems or who are immune-compromised.

A University of Chicago research team has found that the anti-malarial drug, JPC-2056, is extremely effective against Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis.

“JPC-2056 has the potential to replace the standard treatment of pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine,” said Rima McLeod, co-author of the study.

“The drug, taken orally, is easily absorbed, available, and relatively non toxic. In tissue culture and in mice, it was rapidly effective, markedly reducing numbers of parasites within just a few days,” said McLeod

Untreated mice “appeared ill” four days after being injected with the parasite, the authors noted. Treated mice were well.

The drug inhibits the action of an enzyme produced by the family of parasites that includes those that cause toxoplasmosis and malaria.

The new drug was effective against all malaria parasites, even those with multiple mutations that make them resistant to other anti-folate medicines, suggesting that “this family of parasites, including not just Toxoplasma but also various malaria parasites, will not easily develop resistance.”

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