The not-for-profit medical research organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) announced an agreement to collaborate with Nagasaki University to screen and identify new molecules that could become a potential treatment for Chagas disease, with the financial support of Japan’s Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund).
Chagas is a neglected parasitic disease that affects 6 million people worldwide. Up to a third of those affected suffer heart damage that can lead to progressive heart failure or sudden death. Chagas kills more people in Latin America each year than any other parasitic disease, including malaria.
However, current treatments for the disease were discovered half a century ago and are unsatisfactory. They are effective if given soon after infection but last up to eight weeks and can have serious side effects. Safer, simpler, more effective treatments are urgently needed.
One of the challenges in discovering new drugs for Chagas has been the persistent lack of optimal drug screening tools. Nagasaki University researchers have developed a new screening method that facilitates the evaluation of the activity of compounds in cell-based assay systems at high throughput level. This method uses transgenic Trypanosoma cruzi parasites (which transmit the disease) that can be detected using bioluminescence.
With the support of GHIT Fund, DNDi and Nagasaki University will partner to apply this new method to screen compound libraries made available by BINDS Project of Grad. Sch. Pharm. Sci., Osaka University. Nagasaki University will conduct high-throughput screening as well as data analysis and interpretation. DNDi will provide support for project initiation, data analysis, and hit prioritization.
The GHIT Fund has awarded the project a grant of approximately JPY 16 million (EUR 100,000) to identify novel compounds that meet GHIT/DNDi hit criteria for Chagas disease. DNDi’s contribution to this project will be provided fully on an in-kind basis.
Over 75 million people are at risk of Chagas worldwide. An estimated 30,000 new cases and 12,000 deaths from Chagas occur each year. Chagas is endemic in 21 countries in the Americas and is also present in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia.
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a not-for-profit medical research organization that discovers, develops, and delivers safe, effective, and affordable treatments for neglected people. DNDi is developing medicines for sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, river blindness, mycetoma, dengue, paediatric HIV, advanced HIV disease, cryptococcal meningitis, and hepatitis C. Its research priorities include children’s health, gender equity and gender-responsive R&D, and diseases impacted by climate change. Since its creation in 2003, DNDi has joined with public and private partners across the globe to deliver twelve new treatments, saving millions of lives. dndi.org
Photo credit: Vinicius Berger-DNDi