Two UCSB researchers discovered that calcium channel blockers may prove to be an inexpensive alternative for controlling schistosome infection, a serious global health problem that afflicts more than 200 million people annually in developing nations. An estimated 200,000 people, many of them older children, die every year from schistosomiasis. Many more suffer chronic damage to vital organs, including the liver and bladder.
The inventors are Mark Walter, a research biologist, and Armand Kuris, professor of biology.
"Calcium channel blockers look very promising for the treatment of schistosomiasis, which is a devastating disease," said Kuris, an expert in parasitology and associate provost of the College of Creative Studies. Physicians routinely prescribe calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure, correct abnormal heart rhythms, treat panic attacks and bipolar disorder, and prevent migraine headaches.
"We know that the drugs are safe for people," said Kuris. "They are available, and not terribly expensive. For a tropical disease that is very, very important. We are gratified by OneWorld Health's interest in our discovery, and confident in its ability to develop this inexpensive treatment for schistosomiasis for children in rural villages throughout the world."
OneWorld Health partners with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities, government agencies, and global health advocates to develop comp