New research has found that a two-week treatment course for adult patients with Chagas disease is as effective and much safer than the standard eight-week course of treatment.
Chagas disease is a tropical parasitic disease that consists of an acute phase and a chronic phase. Symptoms of the acute phase can include fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, and rash, while the chronic phase can lead to cardiac and intestinal complications. The disease affects around six million people globally and can cause irreversible damage to vital organs, and death.
One of the two drugs traditionally used to treat Chagas is called Benznidazole. It is administered twice a day over a period of eight weeks. The new research – a phase II clinical trial that was carried out in three centres in Bolivia – sought to improve the safety, tolerability and efficacy of treatment with this drug.
“We believe treatment can spare people with Chagas the risk of a lifetime of debilitating complications associated with the disease. However, the current treatment can cause severe side effects, which has often discouraged some people from seeking treatment and healthcare workers from recommending it,” said Joaquim Gascon, a principal investigator in the trial and Director of the Chagas Initiative at ISGlobal.
“We've shown that shorter treatment could be just as effective, and much safer. This could change the paradigm for Chagas treatment, by improving adherence and encouraging wider adoption by the medical community," said Dr Faustino Torrico, President of CEADES Foundation, Bolivia, and a principal investigator in the trial.