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A Novel Oral Treatment for Leishmaniasis Has Potential to Save Thousands of Lives

New Formulation is Tropically Stable and Less Toxic than Current Treatment  

Arlington, Va.—A tropically stable liquid therapy for leishmaniasis, a disease known as the Baghdad boil, shows a significant decrease in infection after less than a week of treatment. This research is being presented at the 2011 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 23–27.

Leishmaniasis is transmitted by the bite of sand flies. This disease threatens about 350 million people in 88 countries around the world, according to the World Health Organization. As many as 12 million people are infected, with an estimated 1 to 2 million new cases developing every year. Visceral leishmaniasis is the most severe form of the disease and is usually fatal without treatment.

Lead researcher Kishor Wasan, R.Ph., Ph.D., and his colleagues from the University of British Columbia in Canada have developed a tropically stable oral therapy using a well-established antibiotic for the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis.

Results showed that there was a 96 percent reduction in the parasitic infection after less than five days of treatment. This is the first formulation that is stable in the tropics and subtropics, including the Middle East, where many cases of leishmaniasis are seen.

“There are no other tropically stable oral treatments for visceral leishmaniasis,” said Wasan. “We see a tremendous global health impact for this neglected disease, and being able to get treatment directly to those infected, no matter how remote, is critical.”

This noninvasive liquid therapy appears to help the intestinal absorption of the antibiotic and increases its access into the brain and heart. It is also less toxic than the current IV treatment.

U.S. military stationed in these locations are returning home infected with the disease, and it is also a concern for travelers. Current treatment is through an IV for more than a month and while effective, it is expensive and cannot be administered outside of a medical setting.

The AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition is the world’s largest pharmaceutical sciences meeting to improve global health through advances in pharmaceutical sciences. AAPS, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, has themed the keynote and plenary sessions at this year’s Annual Meeting “The Next 25 Years.” An estimated 9,000 scientists from around the world will participate in 90 sessions, including more than 60 symposia and roundtables.

Learn more about the meeting and global health from leading scientists in this webisode series and follow the tweet hashtag #AAPS2011 for meeting updates. 

Editor’s Note: All press must register and provide press credentials to attend this meeting. To register, please contact or +1.703.248.4740 prior to the meeting, or visit room 149A during the conference. To schedule an interview with Kishor Wasan or for any other press inquiry, please contact Hillarie Turner at or + x113.

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About AAPS: The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists is a professional, scientific society of approximately 12,000 members employed in academia, industry, government and other research institutes worldwide. For more information, please visit