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Novel drug proves effective against neglected tropical diseases

IANS  |  London 

Researchers have developed a novel drug with the potential to kill a bacterium causing two of the most neglected that lead to and severe disability and affect over 157 million people globally.

is a caused by a parasitic worm -- -- that affects the skin and eyes of people leading generally to blindness, while refers to a that causes extreme swelling in the arms and legs.

The team from the in Britain showed that the drug called AWZ1066S is based on a molecule and is effective in killing Wolbachia the bacterium, which is behind the

is caused by a Wolbachia-dependent parasitic worm similar to the one that causes Thus, a cure for one could result in a cure for the other.

The new drug which can be taken orally, does not upset the gut biome and also shortened the time-scale of treatment from weeks to days, as against which is a long treatment process, lasting up to six weeks, the researchers said.

"Our team has already shown that removing the bacteria with results in the death of the worm, but until now we were unaware of how the bacteria protected the parasite in the first instance," said Ben Makepeace, from the varsity.

The team found that Wolbachia bacteria inside the worm acts as a "disguise" for the parasite, resulting in the immune system reacting to it in an ineffective way.

The bacteria protect the worm from the body's natural defences, but once the bacteria are removed with antibiotics, the immune system responds appropriately, releasing cells, called eosinophils, that kill the worm.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that AWZ1066S has a faster kill rate compared with other known tested against Wolbachia in vitro.

It can achieve maximum reduction of Wolbachia just after a day of drug exposure compared with the other antibiotics tested.

Currently, there is no vaccine for river blindness, but if a candidate could be identified this may help boost the immune system ahead of antibiotic treatment and reduce the length of time patients have to take the drug, Makepeace said.

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 14 2019. 16:50 IST
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