Saturday, April 10, 2010

Scientists Closer to Curing Sleeping Sickness

Scottish scientists have discovered a weakness of the parasite linked to sleeping sickness. The tsetse fly cannot live without a particular enzyme that the scientists have uncovered and can now exploit with drugs.

The new treatment of the fatal sleeping sickness, which infects 60,000 African people each year, could be ready within 18 months. Currently there are two treatments on the market, but each is very flawed. One is an arsenic-based compound that kills 5% of patients. The other is too expensive to produce and distribute to the masses.

Close to 60 million people are at risk of infection and this breakthrough is the first step toward affordable, widespread treatment for sleeping sickness in Africa.

-Nick Mohazzabfar