PerspectiveInfectious Diseases

Overcoming neglect of kinetoplastid diseases

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Science  29 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6238, pp. 974-976
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa3683

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Of the 17 neglected tropical diseases listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) (1), three are caused by parasitic kinetoplastid protozoa: human African trypanosomiasis (HAT; also known as sleeping sickness), leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease. The three diseases are responsible for high mortality and morbidity among the world's poorest populations. Although these and other neglected diseases have received increased attention over the past decade, new drugs are still scarce: From 2000 to 2011, only 4% of new drugs and vaccines were registered for neglected diseases (2). However, the drug development pipeline, with sustained resources and research efforts, should see the delivery of new drugs for these diseases over the next decade.