Dutch university to develop tropical diseases drugs

17th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

The VU University Amsterdam will be part of the international consortium to develop treatment for deadly tropical diseases African sleeping sickness and leishmaniasis.

Amsterdam – A new Dutch/international consortium has been formed to promote drug development for the treatment of two deadly tropical diseases – African sleeping sickness and leishmaniasis – which affect millions of people around the world.

The consortium of IOTA Pharmaceuticals, Mercachem, Nycomed, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, the Royal Tropical Institute, the University of Bern, TI Pharma and the VU University Amsterdam have a budget of EUR 3.6 million for the next four years.

“Both are caused by parasites and both are high on the WHO’s list of neglected diseases for which no medication is available. This new project promises to make a major contribution to the treatment of neglected tropical diseases,” said chief researcher Rob Leurs of VU Amsterdam.

An estimated 60 million people are at risk from African sleeping sickness, which kills 40,000 people a year in sub-Saharan Africa. The parasite is transmitted by the tsetse fly. Patients typically suffer fever and epileptic attacks, became emaciated and then sink into a coma and die.

Leishmaniasis is found in tropical and sub-tropical countries around the globe, from Latin America to the Middle East. There are many different species of the disease, including cutaneous, visceral and mucosal forms. Over 350 million people are at risk, with annual fatalities for visceral leishmaniasis alone totalling 60,000. The parasite is carried by sand flies.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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