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Future Microbiol. 2011 Jun;6(6):677-91. doi: 10.2217/fmb.11.44.

Development of novel drugs for human African trypanosomiasis.

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Department Medical Parasitology & Infection Biology, Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute, and, University of Basel, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland.


Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) or 'sleeping sickness' is a neglected tropical disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. Novel models for funding pharmaceutical development against HAT are beginning to yield results. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) rediscovered a nitroimidazole, fexinidazole, which is currently in Phase I clinical trials. Novel benzoxaboroles, discovered by Anacor, Scynexis and DNDi, have good pharmacokinetic properties in plasma and in the brain and are curative in a murine model of stage two HAT with brain infection. The Consortium for Parasitic Drug Development (CPDD) has identified a series of dicationic compounds that can cure a monkey model of stage two HAT. With other screening programs yielding hits, the pipeline for new HAT drugs might finally begin to fill.

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