Conquering kala azar

Published: Friday 15 August 1997

thanks to a new drug formulation, the treatment of kala azar ( leishmaniasis ) and some fungal infections may become quicker, safer and more effective. This drug will be made for the first time by an Indian company that hopes to break us monopoly over the product. Kala azar is transmitted through sandflies widespread in Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and parts of West Bengal and Orissa. So far, only two us-based companies make and globally market the drug which is a combination of the antibiotic amphotericin- b and a fat globule.

However, the drug in its original form has side-effects like severe pain, fever, kidney toxicity and heart problems.To tackle these problems, the drug is wrapped inside a globule called a liposome which takes the drug straight to a group of immune cells in which the kala azar parasite resides. While 70-80 per cent patients administered with the plain drug complained of fever and pain, barely one or two per cent of those injected with the liposomal preparation showed any side-effects.

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