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ACS Infect Dis. 2019 Jan 9. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.8b00253. [Epub ahead of print]

Successful Aspects of the Co-administration of Sterol 14α-Demethylase Inhibitor VFV and Benznidazole in Experimental Mouse Models of Chagas Disease Caused by the Drug-Resistant Strain of Trypanosoma cruzi.


Up to now, no vaccines are available for Chagas disease, and the current therapy is largely unsatisfactory. Novel imidazole-based scaffolds of protozoan sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51) inhibitors have demonstrated potent anti-parasitic activity with no acute toxicity. Presently our aim was to investigate the effectiveness of the experimental 14α-demethylase inhibitor VFV in the mouse models of Trypanosoma cruzi infection using naturally drug-resistant Colombiana strain, under monotherapy and in association with the reference drug, benznidazole (Bz). The treatment with VFV resulted in complete parasitemia suppression and 100 % animal survival when administered orally (given in 10 % DMSO plus 5% Arabic gum) at 25 mg/kg (bid) for 60 days. However, as parasite relapse was found using VFV alone under this treatment scheme, the co-administration of VFV with Bz was assayed giving simultaneously (for 60 days, bid) by oral route, under two different drug vehicles (10 % DMSO plus 5 % Gum Arabic with or without 3% Tween 80). All tested mice groups resulted in >99.9 % of parasitemia decrease and 100 % animal survival. qPCR analysis performed on cyclophosphamide immunosuppressed mice revealed that, although presenting lack of cure, VFV given as monotherapy was 14-fold more active than Bz, and the co-administration of Bz plus VFV (given simultaneously, using 10 % DMSO plus 5 % Gum Arabic as vehicle) resulted in 106-fold lower blood parasitism as compared to the monotherapy of Bz. Another interesting finding was the parasitological cure in 70 % of the animals treated with Bz and VFV when the co-administration was given using the VFV suspension in 10 % DMSO + Arabic gum + Tween 80 (a formulation that we have found to provide a better pharmacokinetics), even after immunosuppression using cyclophosphamide cycles, supporting the promising aspect of the drug co-administration in improving the efficacy of therapeutic arsenal against T. cruzi.

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