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Fri Dec 21, 2012, 02:21 AM

UTEP professor develops Chagas vaccine

A University of Texas at El Paso professor has developed a vaccine that can protect against Chagas disease, a potentially fatal illness that affects millions of people around the world.

Dr. Igor C. Almeida, 52, a biological sciences professor, began his research 22 years ago in Brazil and reached the breakthrough stage after he arrived at UTEP.

Almeida said Alexandre F. Marques, 39, a postdoctoral researcher at UTEP and a collaborator in his lab, was instrumental in helping him develop the vaccine. Their work also helped put the university on the global map of medical research.

"It is not every day that a person can change the medical textbooks so completely," said Stephen Aley, interim dean of UTEP's College of Science. "Because of the research of Dr. Igor Almeida, a frequently fatal disease of the Americas has become totally preventable. He is an outstanding example of how UTEP researchers impact millions of at-risk people in this region and throughout Central and South America."

More at http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_22236823/utep-professor-develops-chagas-vaccine

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Reply UTEP professor develops Chagas vaccine (Original post)
TexasTowelie Dec 2012 OP
DreamGypsy Dec 2012 #1
COLGATE4 Dec 2012 #2

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 03:04 AM

1. The vaccine has not gone through clinical trials

The technical results look promising, but ...

From the article:

Almeida, the project's principal researcher, is awaiting funding to continue testing the breakthrough vaccine. He needs to conduct further clinical trials on animals and, later, trials on humans.

He said it costs from $800 million to $1 billion to bring an effective vaccine to market.

Because of apparently low incidence of the disease in North America, except for Mexico, the researchers may encounter difficulties getting funding from NIH or private sources within the United States (venture capital, big pharma partners, health initiatives, etc.).

Chagas disease is prevalent in the Americas, mostly in northern Mexico, Central America and South America. In recent years, cases have been reported in Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia.

However, some of the initial funding for the work reportedly came from the Wellcome Trust, which is U.K. charitable foundation supporting human and animal health research and development. That support may help in securing sources of funding for the necessary clinical trials.

My wife is the CEO of a company developing malaria drugs (treatment rather than vaccine) that are at a similar state of development, with very promising results in early clinical studies in animals and in human blood studies. She has spent the last year and a half traveling the U.S. and other countries trying to secure much smaller funding for the clinical trials, but has not yet been successful. In Africa, malaria kills a child approximately every 6 minutes. The available treatment drugs are largely ineffective because of drug resistance developed by the parasite.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 10:06 AM

2. Chagas is one of the nastier tropical diseases

It starts when you're bitten (usually in your sleep) by an insect (type of fly?) who carries a parasite. Ff you don't scratch, everything's OK but if you're sleeping you subconsciously scratch the bite site, thus letting the parasite enter your blood stream. Nothing apparently happens for a long time (generally about 10 years or more) but the parasite enventually migrates to your brain or heart. In either case, by that time,game's over. There's no conventional treatment for it once you have it, so this is definitely good news.

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