'Stealth' nanoparticles make Chagas med more effective

South America

A study published in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal has shown that a new “stealth” nanoparticle cured more than half of mice infected by the deadly Chagas disease parasite, a particular concern for Latin American countries.

A team led by Marta de Lana of Brazil’s Federal University of Ouro Preto designed nanocapsules as a vehicle for lychnopholide, a plant extract known for its ability to kill the parasite Trypanosome cruzi, which causes Chagas disease. Nanocapsules had been used previously to deliver the treatment, but they are attacked by the body’s immune cells, decreasing the effectiveness.

The new capsules, on the other hand, go unrecognized by the immune system and are able to enter host cells and kill the parasite without detection. What’s more, the particles’ design allows them to make it past the acids and enzymes of the stomach, so the treatment can be administered orally as opposed to intravenously like other Chagas meds. Because of the disease’s spread in developing countries, an oral option would be more practical.

In early stages of the disease, the stealth nanoparticles cured 62.5% of mice compared to 57% with the conventional ones. And in later stages, the stealth particles cured 55.6% to 30%, respectively.

"Chagas disease affects millions of people, mainly in poor rural areas of 21 Latin American countries," de Lana said. "Both nanoencapsulated formulations are so simple that they may be produced in a simple laboratory.”

- here's the release

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