Chagas disease, a tropical illness that is transmitted by biting insects, may pose a major unseen threat to poor populations in the Americas and Europe, according to a report published May 29 in the journal PLoS.
An estimated 22.5 million people live with HIV in sub Saharan Africa, which is also home to 90% of the world’s 16.6 million children orphaned by HIV.
The Pool for Open Innovation against Neglected Tropical Diseases, created by GlaxoSmithKline and transferred last year to the World Intellectual Property Organization, is just getting off the ground.
Like AIDS, Chagas disease, which is already prevalent in Central and South America, “has a long incubation time and is hard or impossible to cure,” The New York Times reports.
[Related: US relief program prevented 741,000 HIV/AIDS deaths in Africa]Both diseases disproportionately affect people living in poverty, both are chronic conditions requiring prolonged, expensive treatment, and as with patients in the first two decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most patients with Chagas disease do not have access to health care facilities.
This is where the R&D convention can bring about transformation,” said Dr Tido von Schoen Angerer, executive director of MSF’s Access Campaign.. In April, a report was released by the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG), a WHO convened group of experts mandated to look at medical innovation.. They concluded that a binding convention “is needed to secure appropriate funding and coordination to promote R&D needed to address the diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries and which constitute a common global responsibility.
Unlike HIV, Chagas is not a sexually transmitted disease: it’s caused by parasites transmitted to humans by blood sucking insects, as the New York Times put it.
Gaaah, Cassie Murdoch wrote on Jezebel.com, summing up the sentiment of everyone who read the journal’s report.
[Related: Coming soon - an over the counter HIV test]Chagas, also known as American trypanosomiasis, kills about 20,000 people per year, the journal said.
And while just 20 percent of those infected with Chagas develop a life threatening form of the disease, Chagas is hard or impossible to cure, the Times reports:The disease can be transmitted from mother to child or by blood transfusion.
Screening of blood products for HIV has largely eliminated transmission through blood transfusions or infected blood products in the developed world.
About a quarter of its victims eventually will develop enlarged hearts or intestines, which can fail or burst, causing sudden death.
Treatment involves harsh drugs taken for up to three months and works only if the disease is caught early.
The problem is once the heart symptoms start, which is the most dreaded complication—the Chagas cardiomyopathy—the medicines no longer work very well, Dr Peter Hotez, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the editorial’s authors, told CNN.
And 11 percent of pregnant women in Latin America are infected with Chagas, the journal said.
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Jason Murdoch is a business journalist based in Hobart, Australia. Jason has a passion for financial markets and breaking news stories and loves writing about business news, stock market, and economic opinions that matters most to its audience. Jason spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest financial markets and industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on BigBoardNews.com.