Chagas disease affects about 10 million people worldwide, but even so, it is considered a neglected tropical disease. On Monday, March 4, approximately 140 scientists and experts in Chagas disease from around the world came together to discuss the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of this forgotten disease at the IX edition of the Workshop on Imported Chagas Disease, held at Casa del Mar in Barcelona.
While the experts said that there were recent signs of a growing interest in Chagas disease, they stressed the need for greater efforts to save this disease from oblivion. Dr. Joaquim Gascon, Director of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Initiative at ISGlobal, highlighted the need for more investment in research, and called attention to the fact that the only two drugs available to treat Chagas disease had been developed in the 1960s. ISGlobal, together with The Platform for the Integral Care of Patients With Chagas Disease and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, is currently testing E1224, a new drug for Chagas disease. If the results expected at the end of the year are positive, this will set the stage for the approval of E1224, which is hoped to offer greater effectiveness and fewer side effects than the two existing drugs.
Members of NHEPACHA, an Ibero-American network formed by 12 research groups working in the field of Chagas disease in 9 countries, met on the day after the workshop to analyse the advances made in the development and improvement of tools and biomarkers for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of Chagas disease.
Chagas Week in Bolivia
A similar initiative to the Workshop on Imported Chagas Disease will take place this year in Bolivia, which has the highest prevalence of this disease in the world. The initiative, known as Chagas Week - Neglected Disease will run for a week (April 15-19) in Cochabamba and feature different events addressing the current challenges of Chagas disease.