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Anticancer Compounds as Leishmanicidal Drugs: Challenges in Chemotherapy and Future Perspectives

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Leishmaniasis comprises a spectrum of parasitic illnesses caused by several species of the protozoan kinetoplastid parasite, Leishmania spp. The disease affects 12 million people around the world with an annual death rate of approximately 80,000 people.

Several drugs are available for treating leishmaniasis. For example, pentavalent antimonial compounds, such as sodium stibogluconate and meglumine antimonite are the drugs used in first-line chemotherapy. As second-line drugs, amphotericin B and pentamidine are used. However, current treatments against leishmaniasis are usually unsatisfactory due to some limitations including the route of administration of the drugs, their unaffordable cost and toxicity. Efforts have been made to develop new leishmanicidal drugs and to find new strategies of drug design. Hence, it is interesting to point out that the effectiveness of certain molecules as both anticancer drugs and antiprotozoal agents suggested that this class of compounds and their derivatives might be useful as antileishmanial agents.

This review summarizes the anticancer compounds that have been investigated against leishmaniasis. Some of such agents include: compounds with in vitro antileishmanial activities, molecules tested in clinical trials and registered patents. We finally discuss challenges in chemotherapy and future prospects in the treatment of leishmaniasis.
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Keywords: Anticancer drugs; apoptosis; leishmanicidal drugs; necrosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Farmacia “Castilla” Laboratory, Hermanos Garcia Noblejas 174, 28037-Madrid, Spain.

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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