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Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(1):42-60.

Neglected diseases caused by bacterial infections.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Biology and Biochemistry, Institute of Pharmacy, University of Mainz, Staudinger Weg 5, Mainz, Germany.


Bacterial infections represent a major health problem, especially in third world countries. In endemic regions, large populations of people are greatly affected, but the medical care is very limited. In this review, the neglected diseases buruli ulcer and trachoma are elucidated. Buruli ulcer is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans which produces an outstanding immunosuppressive toxin mycolactone that induces an ulcerative, necrotic skin disease. Until today, only the combination of rifampin/streptomycin is used to treat buruli ulcer. However, this therapy is ineffective and expensive. Here, we report new findings that suggest pharmaceutical formulations such as rifapentine, in combination with clarithromycin or moxifloxacin that have shown promising results in mice footpad trials. Moreover, alternative treatment options such as heat therapy, nitric oxide cremes and French clay show bactericidal effects. The genotyping of M. ulcerans also promises new ways of finding drug targets and vaccines. Trachoma, induced by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, is the primary infectious cause of blindness worldwide. Recurrent infections lead to chronic inflammation of the upper tarsal conjunctiva. As a consequence, scarring and distortion of the eye lids occur, eventually resulting in blindness. First-line medications for trachoma treatment are bacteriostatic agents such as topically applied tetracylines and systematically administered azithromycin. Surgery, environmental improvements and personal hygiene are further crucial factors in controlling trachoma. Moreover, efforts are being undertaken towards the development of vaccine systems, with the major outer membrane protein and the polymorphic membrane protein acting as attractive candidates.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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