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Parasitol Res. 2003 May;90(1):71-9. Epub 2003 Jan 31.

Arsenicals (melarsoprol), pentamidine and suramin in the treatment of human African trypanosomiasis.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.


Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), otherwise known as sleeping sickness, has remained a disease with no effective treatment. Recent progress in HAT research suggests that a vaccine against the disease is far from being successful. Also the emergence of drug-resistant trypanosomes makes further work in this area imperative. So far the treatment for the early stage of HAT involves the drugs pentamidine and suramin which have been very successful. In the second stage of the disease, during which the trypanosomes reside in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), treatment is dependent exclusively on the arsenical compound melarsoprol. This is largely due to the inability to find compounds that can cross the blood brain barrier and kill the CSF-residing trypanosomes. This review summarises our current understanding on the treatment of HAT.

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