Breakthrough set to end drug side-effects

CITY scientists say they have found what causes severe side-effects in medication used to treat fatal diseases in some of the world’s poorest regions.

Researchers at the universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews hope their discovery will break a path to new treatments for parasitic diseases within a few years.

Treatments for such illnesses, known as 5-nitrofurans, can have side-effects which often see patients stop taking the medication.

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Now an alternative drug combination which could be more effective and have fewer side-effects is being proposed.

Dr Liz Paton, from Edinburgh University, said: “This is a big step forward for understanding how 5-nitrofuran drugs work and gives us a realistic window of opportunity to help improve available treatments. Our next step is to test the effects of this combination treatment in human cells and tissues.”

Dr Nick Westwood, from St Andrews, added: “We have listened to the message sent by patients. The class of drugs that includes nifurtimox is effective but many people struggle to complete the course of treatment due to the serious side-effects.”