Researchers hunting for vaccines usually test their creations on animals before injecting humans. A favourite is the mouse, which has relatively similar physiology to human beings, grows quickly, and produces plenty of brethen. Continue reading
A drug which has been used to target numerous infectious diseases has been successful in limiting the impact of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) too.
Fexinidazole has been used for over 30 years and studies are being conducted to ascertain its effect on sleeping sickness. The parasites that cause sleeping sickness and VL are closely related, so researchers at the University of Dundee decided to see whether the drug could also work against VL too.
VL is an infectious disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted by the bite of an infected sandfly. After malaria, it is the biggest killer in many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Estimates put 50,000 killed every year but WHO say this is a huge underestimate as many cases are never recorded. 1.5-2 million new cases occur annually even though only around 600,000 are declared, the WHO have said.
If left untreated, VL can have a fatality rate as high as 100% within two years. Safer and more effective oral drugs are required to treat this parasitic disease as current drug treatments are expensive, lead to harmful side effects and mostly given by injection, which is unsuitable in poor rural areas where VL strikes.