A more effective treatment for sleeping sickness has been found


Overlooked by the pharmaceutical industry on account of the limited profitability of possible treatments, Belgian researchers have successfully developed a more effective cure for sleeping sickness, which primarily affects sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers from the Universities of Antwerp and Ghent have discovered a treatment for sleeping sickness, which primarily affects regions in sub-Saharan Africa. The drug, developed by Belgian researchers, has proved effective in animal tests and the results are promising.

Sleeping sickness, which is caused by a parasite and spread by the tsetse fly, leads to symptoms including fever, aches and itching as the parasites multiply in the bloodstream and then in the central nervous system. This leads to neurological complications, including changes in sleep cycles, hence the name of the disease.

As Guy Caljon, a researcher at the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Antwerp, explains, "some treatments exist, but they cannot be administered orally, which is a barrier for people living in rural areas, who are generally most affected by the disease". For Louis Maes, another researcher from the University of Antwerp involved in the project, "it was essential to find a treatment that could be administered orally, that was affordable and that could reach the brain".

However, given that cases of this disease are falling, the pharmaceutical industry does not currently see any interest in developing or improving existing treatments. But if it is resurgent, sleeping sickness will almost certainly be better treated following this breakthrough.