Health Encyclopedia


Health Encyclopedia Home

New Drug for Chagas Disease Disappoints in 1st Human Trial

New Drug for Chagas Disease Disappoints in 1st Human Trial

FRIDAY, May 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists report disappointing results from a trial that tested a new drug as a possible player against Chagas disease, an insect-driven illness typically found in rural areas of Latin America.

However, the lead researcher suggested that the new medication, known as posaconazole, might still have a place alongside the standard treatment for the parasitic infection.

"The current drugs [for Chagas disease] do not have a high enough cure rate to be considered an optimal option," said lead researcher Dr. Israel Molina, from the department of infectious diseases at the Vall d'Hebron Teaching Hospital in Barcelona, Spain.

Unfortunately, "posaconazole is not enough to eliminate the parasite from the patient," Molina said. "Contrary to what was expected, benznidazole, the old drug, had a good response in patients who could complete the treatment schedule, although whether they have been cured has not be assessed."

Although this first human trial was not promising, Molina thinks treating Chagas disease patients with both drugs might turn out to be the best approach.

"Combined therapy appears to be an attractive therapeutic option," he said. "Patients with chronic Chagas disease should be treated with benznidazole. Posaconazole was not powerful enough by itself to cure the disease."

The report was published in the May 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Marc Siegel, an infectious disease expert at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said that Chagas disease affects about 10 million people around the world.

"We still don't have an effective treatment for chronic Chagas disease -- which is a major problem in Latin America," he said. "We must continue to rely on controlling the bugs that carry the disease -- mainly on triatomine bugs."

People become infected when the bugs feed on humans. The insects are also called kissing bugs, because they tend to bite around the face.

"The disease can also be acquired through blood transfusions, organ transplants and from mother to baby," Siegel said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 300,000 people in the United States may have chronic Chagas disease. Most people with Chagas disease in the United States are immigrants from areas in Latin America, where the disease is endemic.

Chagas is treatable, but often goes unrecognized. Untreated, the infection is lifelong. Only a few people who are infected develop early symptoms, so the majority of people don't know they are infected.

The parasite stays in the blood system and gradually causes disease in the tissues it affects, which is mostly heart muscle. About 30 percent of those infected will develop serious cardiac disease, which can be fatal, according to the CDC.

Chagas disease is one of five parasitic infections that were recently targeted by the CDC. The others are cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis and trichomoniasis. All were targeted based on the number of people infected, the severity of the illnesses and the ability to prevent and treat them.

For the study, Molina's team compared posaconazole with benznidazole in 78 patients with chronic Chagas disease. The patients were randomly assigned to either drug.

After two weeks, all the patients in both groups didn't have signs or symptoms of the Chagas parasite. However, during a follow-up of 14 months, 92 percent of those who were treated with low-dose posaconazole and 81 percent of those given high-dose posaconazole tested positive for the parasite, compared with only 38 percent of those who received benznidazole, the researchers found.

Five patients taking benznidazole stopped treatment because of severe skin reactions. None of the patients taking posaconazole stopped treatment, but four patients had some enzyme levels that were abnormally high, Molina's team noted.

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on Chagas disease.

SOURCES: Israel Molina, M.D., department of infectious diseases, Vall d'Hebron Teaching Hospital, Barcelona, Spain; Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor, medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; May 15, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine

Related Items
Cancer Source
  How Lung Cancer Spreads
  Types of Brain Tumors
Daily News Feed
  Recently Emerged MERS Virus Less Infectious Than SARS: Study
  Study Yields Genetic Clue to Rare Lung Disease
  Low Blood Sugar Levels May Pose Heart Risks for Diabetics, Review Suggests
  Pond Scum Holds Dangers for People, Pets
  Meth Use Tied to Deadly Brain Infection in Mouse Study
  New Clues to Fibromyalgia's Causes
  Anemia Might Raise Dementia Risk, Study Suggests
  Rare Eye Disease Leaves People Without an Iris
  FDA Defines 'Gluten-Free' for Food Labels
  Mother's Asthma During Pregnancy May Raise Child's Health Risks
  Rheumatoid Arthritis Increases Potential for Blood Clots, Study Suggests
  Sleep Apnea May Be Linked to Glaucoma, Study Says
  Scientists ID Genes Behind Chronic Mountain Sickness
  Experimental Treatment May Help Fight Deadly Ebola Virus
  Kidney Disease Patients Can Benefit From Exercise: Study
  Spinal Fluid Test May Aid Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease
  Experimental Drug Shows Promise for Rare Genetic Disorder
  Boys Have Higher Death Rates From Many Causes, Study Shows
  U.S. Drinking Water Sanitation Still a Concern: CDC
  Advance Seen in Turning Adult Cells Into Stem Cells
  Smokers Have Higher Complication Risk After Colon Surgery, Study Finds
  'Cycling' Antibiotics Might Help Combat Resistance, Study Suggests
  Parents' Feeding Choices May Raise Baby's Risk for Celiac Disease
  Your Aquarium Can Be Source of Skin Infections
  Study Aging, Not Disease, for Real Benefits, Scientists Say
  Too Much Online Health Info May Worsen Worriers' Anxiety
  Cinnamon May Help Ease Common Cause of Infertility, Study Says
  Ladies, Take 5 Steps to Avoid Osteoporosis
  Don't Routinely Test for Kidney Disease in Those Without Symptoms: Experts
  Fewer Infants Hospitalized for Whooping Cough, Study Finds
  Want to Stay Healthy? Try Washing Your Hands
  Meet Henry the Hand: A Crusading Doctor's Right-Hand Man
  Walking Speed a Good Gauge of MS Disability, Study Says
  Moms With Lupus More Likely to Have Children With Autism, Study Suggests
  Many Lupus Patients Forgo Needed Medication, Study Finds
  Headaches Accompanying Lupus Often Not Disease-Related, Study Finds
  Lyrica May Ease Pain for Depressed Fibromyalgia Patients
  U.S. Malaria Cases Hit 40-Year High
  Inside the Autistic Brain: New Research Challenges Current Beliefs
  Autism Sign May Appear in First Months of Life
  10 Percent of U.S. Adults Physically Limited by Arthritis: CDC
  Deadly Brain Illness Discovered in British Family
  Lengthy Car, Plane Rides Pose Risk of Clots
  Air Pollution Linked to Dry Eye Syndrome in Study
  'The Pill' Tied to Raised Risk of Glaucoma
  Research Probes Autism's Origins in the Brain
  Don't Let Migraines Ruin Your Holidays
  Chickenpox Vaccine Not Responsible for Rise in Shingles, Study Says
  TB Vaccine May Work Against Multiple Sclerosis: Study
  Measles Still a Threat, U.S. Health Officials Warn
  Exercise Seems to Ease Parkinson's-Related Depression
  Scientists Discover Another Genetic Code
  Insights Gained Into Tourette Syndrome
  Many ADHD Drugs Linked to Painful Erections: FDA
  French Revolution Leader May Have Had Immune-System Disorder
  H1N1 Flu Spreading in South-Central U.S.
  Gene Might Be Linked to Sleep Disorder Narcolepsy
  Breast-Feeding Might Reduce Moms' Odds of Rheumatoid Arthritis
  CDC: Docs Aren't Doing Enough to Discourage Problem Drinking
  Vitamin D Levels Linked to Parkinson's Symptoms
  Is the Stethoscope Living on Borrowed Time?
  Dog Cancer Dates Back 11,000 Years, Scientists Say
  Study Probes Origins of 2 Ancient, Deadly Plagues
  Neanderthal DNA Influences Modern Humans: Study
  Calling Obesity a Disease May Have 'Boomerang Effect'
  Hepatitis B Screening Proposed for All High-Risk Adults
  Blacks Respond Better to German Measles Vaccine, Study Contends
  Boomers Should Consider Shingles Vaccine, Physician Says
  Vaccines Prevent Millions of Infections, Save Billions in Costs: CDC
  Hospital Policy Spurs New Moms to Get Whooping Cough Shot
  More Evidence Environmental Exposures Contribute to Autism
  Coordinated Care Helps Elderly With Chronic Diseases
  No-Fridge Nasal Vaccines on the Horizon
  Chronically Ill Americans May Skip Meds to Afford Food
  Tuberculosis in U.S. Hits Record Low: CDC
  Irregular Periods May Be Risk Factor for Ovarian Cancer, Study Suggests
  Lab-Grown Vaginas, Noses Herald New Options for Patients
  Sleep Apnea May Be Linked to Poor Bone Health
  Eye 'Training' May Help Restore Some Vision Lost to Glaucoma
  Genetic Code of Tsetse Fly May Help Fight Sleeping Sickness
  Caring for Severely Ill Kids May Have Silver Lining
  Medical Marijuana May Ease Some MS Symptoms, Study Concludes
  Skin Cells of Infertile Men Turned Into Sperm 'Precursors' in Mouse Study
  1st MERS Case Reported in U.S.
  1st U.S. MERS Patient Improving, Officials Say
  1st U.S. MERS Patient May Be Released From Hospital Soon
  CDC Targets 5 Parasitic Infections
  Ultrasound Trumps CT Scan for Diagnosing Kidney Stones in Study
  2nd MERS Case Identified in U.S.
  2 Florida Hospital Workers Who Treated MERS Patient Fall Ill
  MERS Not Yet a Public Health Emergency: WHO
  2 Drugs Offer Hope for Fatal Lung Disease
  Third U.S. Man Tests Positive for MERS Virus, CDC Reports
  Delaying Measles-Related Vaccines May Raise Seizure Risk: Study
  Florida MERS Patient Released From Hospital
  Diet Tied to Better Breathing in COPD Patients
  FDA OKs New Drug for Hard-to-Treat Colitis and Crohn's
  Health Tip: Coping With Chronic Illness
  Brain Changes May Accompany Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis in Kids
  CDC: 3rd Suspected MERS Case Was False Alarm
  Obama Moves to Cut Power Plant Emissions
  Camels Confirmed as Source of Human MERS Infection
  Measles Journey Highlights Risk to Unvaccinated Kids
  Poorly Understood Disorder Disables Many Younger Women
  Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus May Be Headed for U.S.
  Hairless Man Now Hairy, Thanks to Arthritis Drug
  Persistent Cough in Kids Can Often Be Whooping Cough
  Your Stomach Bug May Well Be Norovirus
  Gluten-Free Diet May Lift the 'Fog' of Celiac Patients, Study Says
  Guard Your Kids Against Bug Bites This Summer
  Less Toxic Transplant Treatment Offers Hope for Sickle Cell Patients
  Culling Deer Herd Curbs Lyme Disease, Study Says
  Obesity May Raise Risk of COPD
  Breast Cancer Drug May Help Women Fight a Leading Cause of Infertility: Study
  New Psoriasis Drug Shows Promise in Trials
  Researchers Assess New Way to Boost Polio Immunity
  EPA Unveils New Bug Repellant Labeling
  1st Case of Locally Acquired Chikungunya Virus Reported in U.S.
  HIV Diagnoses Down in U.S., Except for Young Gay Males: CDC