River Blindness or onchocerciasis is caused by the prelarval (microfilaria) and adult stages of the filarial nematode Onchocerca volvulus. The disease is transmitted by the bite of certain species of female Simulium flies (black flies) that bite by day and are found near rapidly flowing rivers and streams. Onchocerciasis is endemic in more than 25 nations located in a broad band across the central part of Africa. Small endemic foci are also present in the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen) and in the Americas (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, southern Mexico, and Venezuela)
In a major breakthrough that comes after decades of research and nearly half a billion treatments in humans, scientists have finally unlocked how a key anti-parasitic drug kills the worms brought on by the filarial diseases river blindness and elephantitis.
The WHO said on Thursday that it was aiming for 'complete control' by 2015 of tropical diseases that affect one billion impoverished people and kill an estimated 534,000 people each year, Agence France-Presse reports.
Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have developed the first screening method that rapidly identifies individuals with active river blindness, a parasitic disease that afflicts an estimated 37 million people. The test could change the current strategy of mass treatment in areas where river blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, is suspected.
Merck today announced the Merck Company Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are committing an additional $60 million to support Botswana's African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP). Merck is known as MSD outside the US and Canada. A unique program developed with and led by the Government of Botswana, ACHAP is one of sub-Saharan Africa's oldest, most successful public-private partnerships.
Single-disease initiatives in low-income countries with fragile health systems may compromise the ability of such health systems to meet the other community needs, according to a study published Tuesday in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, VaccineNewsDaily.com reports (Purlain, 8/18).
On Tuesday at the 12th International Congress of Parasitology, a group of scientists, led by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, launched an online series of maps showing the distribution and prevalence of worm infections across Africa, Tropika.net reports (Chinnock, 8/17).
A New York Times editorial about the flooding in Pakistan and the global response to it, cautions: "The world, especially the United States, must not blow this one. We worry it already could be doing that."
More than one billion people all over the world suffer from tropical diseases which are mostly unknown to the wider public and have also been neglected economically. In a joint effort with four other European foundations, the Volkswagen Foundation has opened a second round of funding for African scientists conducting research on these neglected diseases.
It has been a basic principle of evolution for more than a century that plants and animals can adapt genetically in ways that help them better survive and reproduce.
A Science article published on July 9, 2010, describes the discovery of an alternative form of evolution that helps Drosophila flies conquer nematodes that sterilize them. Nematodes are among the most abundant, diverse and destructive parasites of plants and animals.
Merck today announced plans to initiate a Phase II investigational proof-of-concept clinical study to evaluate its oral antifungal agent posaconazole for the treatment of chronic Chagas disease. Chagas disease results from infection with the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi that is spread by biting insects. The disease is estimated to affect approximately eight million people in Latin America, of whom approximately 30-40 percent will develop serious cardiac disease, digestive disease, or both as a result of this infection.
European drug companies came out ahead of their U.S. counterparts in making medicines available to people in developing countries, but their lead is beginning to shrink, according to the Access to Medicines Index, released on Monday, Reuters reports (Kelland, 6/21).
At a Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) briefing, held in conjunction with the Congressional Malaria and NTD Caucus in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, "U.S. researchers, pharmaceutical companies and government officials [said] they are making progress in an effort to curb [NTDs], but that they need more money and outside help," VOA News.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation will host a protest Wednesday morning, March 24th at 10:30am targeting Merck and Co. Pharmaceuticals over the pricing and policies for its key HIV/AIDS drug, Isentress, one of the most expensive first-line AIDS treatment in the US, during the Barclays Capital Global Healthcare Conference.
Betty King reported to her new position as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. "Washington's Geneva mission had been without an ambassador since Warren W. Tichenor left his post on Jan. 20, 2009 - when Barack Obama was sworn in as president," according to the news service (3/3).
"Closantel, an older drug used to treat a parasitic liver disease in animals, may prove effective at combating river blindness in humans, a major cause of infection-related blindness, U.S. researchers said on Monday," Reuters reports (Steenhuysen, 2/8).
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a potential new use for the drug closantel, currently the standard treatment for sheep and cattle infected with liver fluke. The new research suggests that the drug may be useful in combating river blindness, a tropical disease that is the world's second leading infectious cause of blindness for humans.
In an effort to eliminate the tropical diseases elephantiasis and river blindness, a Michigan State University researcher has been awarded $2 million to reformulate an existing drug that could stop the debilitating diseases in their tracks.
"The Obama administration is expected to propose in its fiscal 2011 budget Monday new funding to combat preventable and tropical diseases, malnutrition and other conditions afflicting the world's poor, as part of a strategy to broaden its approach to global health," the Wall Street Journal reports.
At two recent conferences on innovative malnutrition research organized by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Helen Keller International's programs to reduce malnutrition were awarded first prize by government officials, NGOs, researchers and private sector representatives.