Scientists from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) are successfully involved in the development of antigens for the development of a vaccine against Chagas, a disease caused by the parasite Tripanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted by kissing bugs (Triatominae), and mainly affects the poorest sectors in tropical areas.

Jaime Ortega López, researcher attached to the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Department of CINVESTAV, reported that in Mexico it is estimated that 1.1 million people are infected, but it is estimated a significant underreporting. Of those infected, up to 30 percent develop heart problems.

This infection generates two stages:

  • Acute phase, in the first weeks it causes fever, chagoma (an inflammatory nodule at the bite site) or inflammation in the eyelid, in this stage the existing drugs are effective to eliminate the parasite.
  • Chronic phase, the parasite causes cardiac and/or digestive disorders, the drugs lose effectiveness, its treatment is expensive, it takes a long time and causes serious side effects.

He indicated that the research, which is carried out in collaboration with other national and foreign research centers and universities, is very important for these most disadvantaged sectors, due to the fact that large pharmaceutical companies do not develop this type of projects, due to their low profitability.

He said that the idea is that after completing clinical trials, they will made the patent public, and they hope the government incorporate their vaccine in the national immunizations schemes.

In a conference, held at the headquarters of CINVESTAV, he said that there are neglected diseases, and one of them is Chagas, considered a public health problem in Latin America. The World Health Organization reports more than 70 million people at risk, 30,000 new cases and 12,000 deaths per year internationally.

The researcher Ortega López has collaborated for eight years in a multi-institutional research group, with the aim of generating the first vaccine against Chagas in Mexico, which in preclinical tests has showed greater efficiency and its development is more advanced than other proposals.

We established a collaboration with Drs. Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi, of the Baylor College of Medicine and the Center for the Development of Vaccines of Texas Children’s Hospital, as well as Eric Dumonteil, of the Autonomous University of Yucatan and Carlos Slim Foundation, with the objective of joining efforts for the development of a therapeutic vaccine against Chagas’ disease,” explained the researcher.

In addition, he indicated that the development of vaccines is one of the longest processes in the generation of biopharmaceuticals, for that reason it was conformed an inter-institutional and international consortium, with the objective of taking advantage of the installed capacity, knowledge and specialties of different institutions to make synergy and accelerate the development of this vaccine.

 

Source: La Jornada