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Chagas disease

The disease

CD is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.
The main routes of transmission are:

- Bites and faeces of triatomine bugs known as vinchucas, bedbugs or other names, depending on the geographical area.

- Food contaminated with the parasite.

- Transfusions of infected blood.

- Transmission from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy or childbirth.

- Transplantation of organs from an infected person.

- Accidents of laboratory

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there are between 7 and 8 million infected people in the world. Every year there are around 200,000 new cases and 10,000 die from it. Although mainly present in developing countries development, especially in Latin America, in recent decades it has been observed in other developed countries such as the United States of America, Canada, many Europeans and some in the Western Pacific. This makes CD a global public health disease.



Only two drugs are available, nifurtimox and benznidazole. Both have significant toxic effects and relative clinical efficacy. Therefore, the pharmacotherapy of CD is very deficient and new safe and effective drugs are urgently needed development .


Lines of research

We are an international research centre in medicinal chemistry, group , with extensive experience in the area of Chagas disease. Our efforts are focused on obtaining a new drug to cure this disease that is low cost, simple to synthesise and has no toxic effects.

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What our work consists of:

In order to comply with the above requirements and taking into account the previous experience of group, we are working on several lines of synthesis. One of them is based on derivatives of instructions of Mannich. These molecules are simple to synthesise, cheap and with a safer toxicity profile than Benznidazole (the reference drug). So far, more than 100 compounds have been synthesised, of which the in vitro activity has been evaluated in T.cruzi strains, showing very interesting activities and leave cytotoxicity, as well as being non-genotoxic and non-mutagenic. The most potent compounds have shown in vivo activity.

These results have been obtained thanks to a collaboration agreement with the University of Granada.

The study of the effects of selenium on Chagas disease is a very recent field with great potential for success.We are working on another line of synthesis of organoselenium derivatives, based on the synthetic strategy of bioisosteric replacement of sulphur by selenium in sulphur-derived compounds with proven anti-T. cruzi activity.


Team researcher Parasitic diseases. Chagas disease


Silvia Pérez (PhD)

Principal Investigator


+34 948 425600 Extension: 803330

Mercedes Rubio

PhD Student


+34 948 425600 Extension: 806292

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The most important publications of recent years can be viewed via Pubmed(click here).