The results of a Phase II clinical trial of the experimental drug candidate E1224 developed as a treatment for Chagas disease were presented in Washington on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The study was carried out in Bolivia by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health together with the Platform for the Integral Care of Patients With Chagas Disease and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). These new findings fill a long-standing knowledge gap and provide scientific evidence that will help inform public health policies and increase access to the existing treatment for the disease.
The new drug showed good safety and was effective in clearing the parasite that causes Chagas disease, but its sustained efficacy over time was low compared to the current treatment benznidazole. According to researcher Dr Joaquim Gascon, "The findings of this study have important implications for the treatment of Chagas disease. At 12 months after treatment, the efficacy of the new drug is only 30%, a much lower sustained eradication rate than that achieved by benznidazole. This means that we must improve access to the treatment we have—benznidazole—because under 1% of patients with Chagas are currently receiving any treatment." Dr Gascon, the Director of ISGlobal's Chagas Imitative and head of the department of tropical medicine in the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, led the Phase II trial together with Dr Faustino Torrico, from the Universidad Mayor San Simon de Cochabamba, Bolivia.
The Platform for the Integral Care of Patients With Chagas Disease, which is supported by AECID, the Spanish development cooperation agency, carried out the study in Cochabamba and Tarija, two regions in Bolivia with the highest incidence of Chagas disease in the world. In light of the findings of this and other studies, the next step will be to investigate combination therapies as one of the possible strategies for the treatment of this parasitic disease.