Navigating drug repurposing for Chagas disease: advances, challenges, and opportunities
Chagas disease is a vector-borne illness caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi ( T. cruzi ). It poses a significant public health burden, particularly in the poorest regions of Latin America. Currently, there is no available vaccine, and chemotherapy has been the traditional treatment for Chagas disease. However, the treatment options are limited to just two outdated medicines, nifurtimox and benznidazole, which have serious side effects and low efficacy, especially during the chronic phase of the disease. Collectively, this has led the World Health Organization to classify it as a neglected disease. To address this problem, new drug regimens are urgently needed. Drug repurposing, which involves the use of existing drugs already approved for the treatment of other diseases, represents an increasingly important option. This approach offers potential cost reduction in new drug discovery processes and can address pharmaceutical bottlenecks in the development of drugs for Chagas disease. In this review, we discuss the state-of-the-art of drug repurposing approaches, including combination therapy with existing drugs, to overcome the formidable challenges associated with treating Chagas disease. Organized by original therapeutic area, we describe significant recent advances, as well as the challenges in this field. In particular, we identify candidates that exhibit potential for heightened efficacy and reduced toxicity profiles with the ultimate objective of accelerating the development of new, safe, and effective treatments for Chagas disease.