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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2009 Jul;104 Suppl 1:122-35.

Usefulness of PCR-based assays to assess drug efficacy in Chagas disease chemotherapy: value and limitations.

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Laboratório de Biologia Molecular e Doenças Endêmicas, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil.


One major goal of research on Chagas disease is the development of effective chemotherapy to eliminate the infection from individuals who have not yet developed cardiac and/or digestive disease manifestations. Cure evaluation is the more complex aspect of its treatment, often leading to diverse and controversial results. The absence of reliable methods or a diagnostic gold standard to assess etiologic treatment efficacy still constitutes a major challenge. In an effort to develop more sensitive tools, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assays were introduced to detect low amounts of Trypanosoma cruzi DNA in blood samples from chagasic patients, thus improving the diagnosis and follow-up evaluation after chemotherapy. In this article, I review the main problems concerning drug efficacy and criteria used for cure estimation in treated chagasic patients, and the work conducted by different groups on developing PCR methodologies to monitor treatment outcome of congenital infections as well as recent and late chronic T. cruzi infections.

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