African Sleeping Sickness :: Potential New Drug against African Sleeping Sickness

Researchers have shown that a drug that was extensively tested against cancer may also qualify as a new drug against African sleeping sickness.

African sleeping sickness, a disease marked by fever, headaches, and sleepiness, is caused by a parasite that is transmitted to humans through tsetse fly bites.

The parasite escapes destruction by the host immune system because it is surrounded with a “coat” made of proteins that constantly change. But the parasite may have a weakness: It contains very low amounts of cytidine triphosphate (CTP), a molecule essential for cell survival.

Artur Fijolek and colleagues showed that a protein called cytidine triphosphate synthetase, which helps synthesize CTP, was inhibited by acivicin, an anticancer drug previously tested in humans and animals but now abandoned. The scientists tested the action of the drug on mice infected with the trypanosome parasite and showed that the infection was suppressed for at least one month without serious side effects, raising hopes that acivicin could be used as a drug against African sleeping sickness.

Article: “Expression, Purification, Characterization, and in Vivo Targeting of Trypanosome CTP Synthetase for Treatment of African Sleeping Sickness” by Artur Fijolek, Anders Hofer, and Lars Thelander

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