Article image

Schistosomiasis treatment improves with newly-discovered compound

The world of medical research is a thrilling and ever-evolving landscape. Scientists work tirelessly to develop cures for some of humanity’s most persistent foes, including the often-overlooked tropical diseases. Recent study has turned our attention to schistosomiasis, its treatment options, and a promising breakthrough that could give new hope to millions affected by this disease.

What is Schistosomiasis?

Schistosomiasis (pronounced “shis-tuh-soh-my-uh-sis”) is caused by parasitic worms known as schistosomes. While seemingly innocent when they reside in freshwater snails, their ultimate goal is to take up residence in a human host. Unfortunately, exposure can be as easy as bathing or swimming in infected water.

Schistosomiasis is a master of disguise. Initially, you might not even realize you’re infected. Later, those sneaky worms start wreaking havoc on your insides. They can damage your urinary system, intestines, liver, and other vital organs.

Typical symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, and bloody stool. In the most severe cases, children can experience stunted growth and learning difficulties, while adults may suffer from infertility or bladder cancer. It’s the kind of parasite that’s both nasty and incredibly clever.

Challenges in schistosomiasis treatment

There is some good news: there’s a medication called praziquantel used to treat schistosomiasis. Here’s why we need something better:

  • The rise of resistance: Like many disease-causing organisms, some strains of schistosome worms have mutated. This means they’re starting to outsmart praziquantel, rendering it less effective.
  • Immature worms: Praziquantel doesn’t do much to eliminate larval-stage worms. This means even after treatment, the infection could come roaring back when they grow up.
  • A global threat: Schistosomiasis mainly affects tropical and subtropical areas right now. However, climate change could open the door for it to spread into new regions like southern Europe.

With thousands dying from this disease annually, a better solution is desperately needed.

Enter CIDD-0149830

Dr. Sevan N. Alwan, assistant professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and his team are investigating a new compound that could completely change how we treat schistosomiasis. It’s called CIDD-0149830 and it packs a potential punch.

Advantages in schistosomiasis treatment

Why the hype? This compound has some exciting advantages over our current treatments:

Double the trouble

CIDD-0149830 doesn’t discriminate. It targets adult schistosome worms as well as those pesky immature larvae. This might mean finally wiping out the infection entirely.

Resistant? No problem

Early tests show that this compound is effective against the strains of schistosome that praziquantel can’t handle.

Fighting the root cause

In animal studies, it significantly decreased the number of parasite eggs produced. This is crucial because the eggs are responsible for many of the worst schistosomiasis symptoms.

“The compound we developed overcomes the limitations of praziquantel by being effective against the larval stage and resistant strains,” said Dr. Alwan.

Mouse models & beyond

Dr. Alwan and his team analyzed over 350 different candidates, and CIDD-0149830 rose above the rest:

  • Impressive results: Effectively battled several species of schistosome found in humans, including a praziquantel-resistant strain.
  • Mice Studies: Decreased the number of larval worms by over 70%. For comparison, praziquantel achieved about a 20% reduction.
  • Multi-Threat Fighter: Showed potential against two major infectious schistosome species, broadening its possible applications.

Future of schistosomiasis treatment

It’s important not to rush to the pharmacy just yet! CIDD-0149830 is still in the research phase. Here’s what scientists need to work on:

  • Human Dosage: Scientists need to determine exactly how much of this compound is safe and effective in treating human patients.
  • Safety First: Running extensive studies to make sure the compound doesn’t have harmful side effects for humans.

A bright light of hope

“In recent reports, the cure rates for praziquantel were 60% in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease is highly endemic,” explains Dr. Alwan. “The drug limitations strongly warrant the need for new therapeutics.”

While scientists still have work to do, CIDD-0149830 shines as a testament to continued innovation in battling neglected diseases. It could change the lives of millions who suffer from schistosomiasis every day.

The study is presented at Discover BMB.


Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter for engaging articles, exclusive content, and the latest updates. 

Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and


News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day