News / Health

Newly Developed Skin Cream Cures Parasitic Illness

An Afghan woman affected by leishmaniasis gets an injection at a free specialized clinic for supported by World Health Organization in Islam Qala, Herat, Afghanistan, Oct. 30, 2010.
An Afghan woman affected by leishmaniasis gets an injection at a free specialized clinic for supported by World Health Organization in Islam Qala, Herat, Afghanistan, Oct. 30, 2010.
Jessica Berman
The painless but disfiguring lesions of cutaneous leishmaniasis, caused by the bite of a sand fly, may soon be treatable with an antibiotic cream.  Developed by an international team of researchers, the cream would replace lengthy and painful drug treatments for the disease, commonly known as CL, in subtropical and temperate climates.  

Right now, treatment for CL involves a 20-day course of drugs which contain toxic heavy metals that must be injected directly into a vein at hospitals and clinics.  Public health workers in developing countries report some people infected with cutaneous leishmaniasis have tried to burn their disfiguring lesions with battery acid or red hot machetes rather than seek the medical treatment, which is painful, expensive and lengthy.

But CL patients could soon be treated with an antibiotic cream applied directly to the open sores.

Major Mara Kreishman-Deitrick of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases is a lead author of a study of two antibiotic creams - one containing the drugs paromomycin and gentimicin and the other, paromomycin alone.

In a clinical trial of 375 people infected with CL in Tunisia, Kreishman-Deitrick says both creams, applied once a day for 20 days, led to a significant reduction in the size of the sores and improvements in skin regrowth after one hundred days.

“What we showed in our study, which we are very excited about, was that both creams that we tested cured more than 80 percent of the lesions in the patients that were treated, with a great safety profile," said Kreishman-Deitrick. "The side effects that we saw were mild and moderate and primarily just minor skin reactions around the application site.”

Further studies will be conducted to determine whether the cream actually kills the CL parasite, which is why investigators waited six months to see whether there was a flare-up of the treated lesions.

The Tunisian trial involved infection with L. major, a parasitic species carried by the sand fly in parts of the Middle East and North Africa.  However, Kreishman-Deitrick is optimistic the combination antibiotic cream will treat CL in other regions of the world.

“Our animal data and preliminary clinical data show that we could see more of a difference in other species of leishmaniasis in parts of the world like Central and South America," she said.

An estimated 1.5 million cases of CL are diagnosed each year, including among U.S. military personnel serving abroad.  Service men and women infected with leishmaniasis currently have to return home for treatment.  Kreishman-Dietrick says the cream would allow them to be treated on site.

Because cutaneous leishmaniasis is considered a neglected tropical disease, Kreishman-Dietrick says U.S. regulators have put consideration of the highly-effective cream on a fast track for approval.

An article on the topical treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis by researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute, the Tunisian Ministry of Health and investigators at the Instituts Pasteur in Tunis and in Paris is published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More