They say the orally-administered drug could be ready for human clinical trials in about 18 months.
Fatal side effects
The “breakthrough” came at the University of Dundee in Scotland, where scientists were funded to research diseases neglected by major drugs companies.
Professor Paul Wyatt, director of the programme, said: “This is one of the most significant findings made in recent years in terms of drug discovery and development for neglected diseases.”
He said the research, published in the journal Nature, represented “significant strides” in the development of a full blown drug against the disease.
The World Health Organization estimates there are between 50,000 and 70,000 cases of the disease a year, with a further 60 million people at risk of infection.
The two drugs currently available to treat sleeping sickness both have associated problems.
One is arsenic-based with side effects that kill one in 20 patients and the other – eflornithine – is costly, only partially effective and requires prolonged hospital treatment, the scientists said.
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Source: BBC NEWS:March 31st. 2010
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