Human trypanosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Trypanosoma. Trypanosoma brucei is responsible for sleeping sickness, also called African trypanosomiasis, while Trypanosoma cruzi causes Chagas disease, or American trypanosomiasis. Together, these diseases are responsible for significant mortality, morbidity and lost productivity in the endemic regions. There are no vaccines and treatments rely on drugs with limited efficacy, high cost, serious side effects and long administration periods. Since these diseases affect mostly the poor, there is no economic interest in the development of new drugs by pharmaceutical companies, and hopes for new treatments rely on public initiatives, public-private partnerships or philanthropic programs. The first step in the discovery of new drugs involves the identification of active molecules as starting points for further development, by either employing whole cells or by specific molecular target screenings. Research efforts undertaken by the authors’ groups have focused on exploiting both strategies in the search for new molecules for trypanosomiasis drug discovery. In this chapter, we focus on Chagas disease and the recently uncovered potential of using sirtuins as targets for infection control.
Part of the book: Chagas Disease