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The UJI develops innovative compounds for the treatment of tropical infectious diseases

The Universitat Jaume I (UJI) has developed new compounds for the treatment of tropical infectious diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis. This is an encouraging development since the compounds, patented by the UJI, also show a low toxicity, which could avoid the side effects of the treatment of these diseases.

Tropical infectious diseases are diseases found mainly in developing countries that are transmitted by insects that carry an infectious parasite to humans. Besides being an obstacle to the economic and social development of those territories, these diseases generate enormous damage regarding human suffering and mortality. The compounds patented by the UJI respond to this global health challenge and can be the basis for the development of new, more effective and less toxic drugs for these diseases, because the drugs currently used show low efficacy or undesirable side effects.

The innovation of these compounds lies in their high selectivity and low toxicity because, as the researcher of the UJI Florenci González Adelantado explains, "the new compounds inhibit the action of enzymes that catalyse key metabolic processes during the infection of protozoa that cause tropical infectious diseases. Thus, the compounds that we have developed block the natural life cycle of these enzymes, called cysteine proteases, and prevent the progression of the infection without showing the side effects that the compounds traditionally used in the treatment of these diseases have."

This is an encouraging finding that is part of the recent lines of research aimed at finding compounds capable of inhibiting the action of cysteine proteases with the aim of blocking the natural life cycle of protozoa and prevent the progression of the infection. Thus, the designed compounds are novel structures inhibitors of these enzymes that could lead to new drugs to combat malaria, Chagas disease, the sleeping sickness and leishmaniasis, especially as an alternative to traditional therapy in resistant organisms.

The new compounds patented by the UJI have been developed by the Organic and Medicinal Chemistry Group, and its model has been published in the prestigious scientific journal Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry.