An experimental drug shows potential against schistosomiasis, a scourge that infects millions of people throughout the tropics. Tests in mice suggest that the drug might complement the sole effective treatment currently used to fight this disease.
Schistosomes are blood flukes, or flatworms, that infect people through the skin during the parasite's waterborne larval stage. The larvae penetrate the circulatory system and ultimately settle in the liver, where they feed on blood and develop into adult worms. Females then lay eggs, some of which the infected person excretes in feces, potentially spreading the parasite. Other eggs lodge in the liver and other tissues, eliciting immune responses and causing the abdominal pain, fever, and malaise that mark schistosomiasis.
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco several years ago found that a drug called K11777 kills the protozoan that causes Chagas' disease, which is common in South America. That observation