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Leishmaniasis drug, 83% more effective

Two scientists from the UAB have participated in an international study on the complex compound that combines nanoparticles and the active ingredient to selectively attack infected cells.

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02.12.2013

By Biocat

Researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the University of Miami have developed a medical complex that enhances by 83% the efficacy of the drug most commonly used to treat Leishmaniasis in humans. This complex compound is the combination of the active ingredient in this drug, Amphotericin (AmB), and nanoparticles that guide it into the infected cells, thus making it more effective while reducing the necessary dose and side effects. The new product has already been successfully tested in mice.

Leishmaniasis is a cutaneous, mucocutaneous or visceral parasitic disease that in the western world affects mainly dogs, but in developing countries affects more than 12 million people, although the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 350 million people in 88 countries at risk of contracting this parasite. As mentioned above, the best active ingredient to treat it is Amphotericin B, but treatment is long, expensive —more than €3,600 per person— and often has side effects that lead to hospitalization.

When Amphotericin B is combined with the nanoparticle PDD, it becomes 10 times more effective in targeting cells with the parasite. With 17% of a full dose of the drug, it improves cutaneous lesions two or three days earlier than the 12 days needed without the nanoparticle. The compound also acts as a therapeutic vaccine, as it activates the immune system against the reservoir cells harboring the parasite.

The UAB has participated in this study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases through scientists Jordi Alberola and Alhelí Rodríguez, of the university’s Unit of Veterinary Pharmacology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics of Toxicology and the Drug Analysis Service.

More information is available on the UAB website.

The 'Leishmania donovani' parasite in bone-marrow cells - Photo: Wikipedia, CDC/Dr. L.L. Moore, Jr.

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