From Philadelphia, at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
An orally delivered drug for treatment of sleeping sickness is demonstrating considerable effectiveness in its first large-scale test in Africa.
Researchers used blood tests obtained at clinics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Sudan to identify 273 people who had the West African version of sleeping sickness. The scientists then randomly assigned half of these people to get a 10-day course of pafuramidine maleate pills and half to receive daily injections of a standard sleeping sickness drug, pentamidine, for 1 week. The participants were recruited and treated between August 2005 and March 2007.
Interim results show that only 18 people have gotten worse despite being treated. One of these people died after refusing additional treatment, says Carol A. Olson, a biochemist at Immtech Pharmaceuticals of Vernon Hills, Ill., which teamed with a consortiu