A team from the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ) and another from IHMT joined with the objective of developing a new formulation – less toxic and more effective – of Benznidazole, a drug used to combat Chagas disease, a neglected disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi which affects seven to eight million people worldwide, particularly in Latin America.
The answer to that need arises in the form of a nano-formulation (microscopic particles containing the drug and, due to their size, are more easily transported by the blood stream, increasing the possibility of the drug find the infected cells), which is now to be tested under this collaborative project.
“The nano-formulation might not only allow effective treatment of the disease, but also to identify new formulations, for both adult and children, and may have low or no toxic activity,” explains researcher of FIOCRUZ, Rodrigo Corrêa-Oliveira. For the focal point at IHMT, the investigator Marcelo Silva, this project could democratize access to treatment “improving the availability, tolerability and pharmacologic activity”, since as currently only 30% of Benznidazole presents therapeutic effect.
The partnership between IHMT and FIOCRUZ consists “in testing, both in vitro and in vivo, the formulations that will be developed by partners from the pharmaceutical industry and evaluate the various aspects related to immunopathology of the disease,” says Rodrigo Corrêa-Oliveira. It was established, with the cooperation of the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais, the low wall model and canine model specifics to this study. While IHMT will evaluate the new formulations during the acute phase of the disease, using laboratory rats (low wall model), the FIOCRUZ evaluate, using the canine model, its efficacy in chronic phase. If all goes as expected, following will be clinical trials in humans to be held in Barcelona.
If to the investigator of FIOCRUZ, the IHMT is a “strategic partner for this project” because it “has a scientific staff with high quality and competence,” developing a “rapid screening, in vitro, new formulations saving time, reducing the number of animal testing “, for Marcelo Silva, IHMT has much to gain from the vast experience of FIOCRUZ in Chagas disease, in the level” of the vector control and understanding of the mechanisms of interaction between parasite and host and in development new drugs”. It should be noted that Chagas disease was described, for the first time, by the Brazilian scientist Carlos Chagas, in 1909.
Rodrigo Corrêa-Oliveira believes that the results of this project will be fundamental to “create credibility among the partner groups, to identify new questions of common interest, as well as create new partnerships in other areas of tropical medicine.” The IHMT researcher, Marcelo Silva, adds that Portugal may make the bridge between Brazil, Europe and the PALOP and shows the desire to strengthen relations with FIOCRUZ, particularly in the area of the drugs and vaccines development. “There is a great added value in the IHMT learn from this experience that FIOCRUZ already have,” concludes Marcelo Silva.