Pharmacy School Teams Up with Janssen on Chagas Disease Treatments

JANUARY 11, 2016
Meghan Ross, Senior Associate Editor
University of California, San Diego’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will be collaborating with Janssen Research and Development to find new treatments for Chagas disease.

Janssen will give funding to the pharmacy school’s dean and his research team, as well as access to its “Jump-Starter” screening library of compounds, a school press release stated.

The library will allow the pharmacy school to look for chemical probes and find new compounds that could aid in treating patients with Chagas disease.

The school’s robotic drug screening facility will aid in testing Janssen’s compounds to identify those that may be used to kill the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, which is transmitted through insects.

Chagas disease has been referred to as one of the neglected parasitic infections, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means that the CDC has targeted the disease for public health action.

“Chagas disease is known as a neglected tropical disease because of the lack of resources and attention dedicated to studying, preventing, and treating it, especially considering the millions of people it affects,” said pharmacy school dean James McKerrow, MD, PhD, in a press release. “We’re excited by Janssen R&D’s commitment to global public health, particularly for underserved populations, and this opportunity to work with them to take the ‘neglect’ out of this neglected tropical disease.”

Around 8 million individuals in Mexico, Central America, and South America have Chagas disease, which can be life-threatening if left untreated, according to the CDC.

Signs of Chagas include fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting.

One telltale sign of Chagas disease is Romaña’s sign, which is eyelid swelling on the side of the face with the insect wound.

The infection may also lead to cardiac and intestinal complications.