A group of researchers, led by Dr. Kojo Mensa-Wilmot, are working to find the fastest way possible to treat and cure human African trypanosomiasis, long referred to as sleeping sickness. Human African trypanosomiasis is a tropical disease sub-Saharan Africa. Poor rural populations that depend on agriculture or hunting are the most exposed to the disease. Existing diagnosis and treatment regimens are complex, and are especially challenging to manage in poverty-stricken regions.
Using a technique called drug-repurposing, an approach in which drugs developed for one disease are tested for effectiveness against a different disease, Dr. Mensa-Wilmot’s group screened more than 30 compounds that were originally intended to target cancer. They found one that cured the disease in mice by oral administration. Two more are believed to have potential to eliminate the infection.