HIV Drugs for Tropical Diseases

HIV-fighting drugs may help fight malaria and leishmaniasis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Here in the United States, we don't think much about the terrible diseases that affect so many people in poorer countries around the world. Diseases like malaria kill millions of people. Now, scientists have made a discovery that could lead to lifesaving drugs.

Researchers already knew that drugs used to treat HIV could kill parasites, but they did not know how they worked. Now, researchers have found how HIV drugs may also be able to fight off diseases like malaria and leishmaniasis - common diseases that kill millions every year.

"HIV drugs might fight tropical diseases."

The researchers found that HIV drugs shut down a protein - called Ddi 1 - in malaria and leishmaniasis parasites. The HIV drugs keep the parasites from reproducing.

According to Colin Berry, Ph.D., one of the study's researchers, it is very important to find new drugs to fight these deadly diseases.

It is very lucky that drugs made to fight one killer can now be aimed at another group of dangerous diseases, says Dr. Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal.

The Study

  • Berry and colleagues used yeast that was artificially grown to have the ddi1 protein
  • Looking at this yeast, they were able to determine that Ddi 1 was the most likely target of action in the parasites
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 4, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011