The World Health Organisation, the WHO, has announced the launch of a study to perfect a new drug to combat onchocerciasis or “river blindness”.
The World Health Organisation, the WHO, has announced the launch of a study to perfect a new drug to combat onchocerciasis or “river blindness”. Its name is moxidectin and it started out as a veterinary product. Moxidectin has the advantage of sterilising or even killing the adult worm Onchocerca volvulus, responsible for the illness. The first stage is therefore to develop a formula for use in humans. The next will be clinical trials.
This new treatment is being developed as a collaborative venture between the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. The study should take place over two and a half years and involve 1,500 individuals in three countries: Ghana, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The trial will be conducted in collaboration with African institutions and researchers from these countries. The objective is to help local authorities develop the infrastructure and means for health research. This work is of major importance for the treatment of river blindness, especially in Africa where more than 100 million people are exposed to the disease. Particularly as Ivermectin, the only treatment available at present, could eventually become of limited effectiveness due to the development of resistance.