neglected tropical diseases

Sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis [HAT]) is a neglected tropical disease with limited treatment options that currently require parenteral administration. In previous studies, orally administered pafuramidine was well tolerated in healthy patients (for up to 21 days) and stage 1 HAT patients (for up to 10 days), and demonstrated efficacy comparable to pentamidine. This was a Phase 3, multi-center, randomized, open-label, parallel-group, active control study where 273 male and female patients with first stage Trypanosoma brucei gambiense HAT were treated at six sites: one trypanosomiasis reference center in Angola, one hospital in South Sudan, and four hospitals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between August 2005 and September 2009 to support the registration of pafuramidine for treatment of first stage HAT in collaboration with the United States Food and Drug Administration. The overall cure rate at 12 months was 89% in the pafuramidine group and 95% in the pentamidine group; pafuramidine was non-inferior to pentamidine as the upper bound of the 95% confidence interval did not exceed 15%. The safety profile of pafuramidine was superior to pentamidine; however, 3 patients in the pafuramidine group had glomerulonephritis or nephropathy approximately 8 weeks post-treatment. Two of these events were judged as possibly related to pafuramidine. Despite good tolerability observed in preceding studies, the development program for pafuramidine was discontinued due to delayed post-treatment toxicity.

The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are the most common infections of humans in sub-Saharan Africa. Virtually all of the population living below the World Bank poverty figure is affected by one or more NTDs. New evidence indicates a high degree of geographic overlap between the highest-prevalence NTDs (soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and trachoma) and malaria and HIV, exhibiting a high degree of co-infection. Recent research suggests that NTDs can affect HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria disease progression. A combination of immunological, epidemiological, and clinical factors can contribute to these interactions and add to a worsening prognosis for people affected by HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. Together these results point to the impacts of the highest-prevalence NTDs on the health outcomes of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TB and present new opportunities to design innovative public health interventions and strategies for these "big three" diseases. This analysis describes the current findings of research and what research is still needed to strengthen the knowledge base of the impacts of NTDs on the big three.

BRICS’ leaders have an opportunity to pool capacity, technical expertise and financial resources to accelerate progress towards the 2020 goals for neglected tropical disease control and elimination. First, they can lead by example. Brazil, China, India and South Africa can help close the treatment gap by prioritizing neglected tropical diseases, scaling up national programmes and achieving domestic goals for control and elimination of the diseases relevant to their settings. Second, by sharing expertise each BRICS country can help other countries tackle neglected tropical diseases, through new partnerships. Third, BRICS can shape the policy agenda, increasing political commitment, mobilizing resources and implementing policies that support neglected tropical disease control and elimination on the international level.

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