Grant from Gilead Sciences

The California Institute for Medical Research (CIMR), San Jose is pleased to announce the award of a grant from Gilead Sciences to support an international team of researchers, to develop a new therapy for a parasitic disease of the Americas. The disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, and is also known as “Chagas’ disease” (for its Brazilian discoverer, over 100 years ago). The disease principally affects the blood, heart and gastrointestinal tract, and is carried by a biting insect. It is estimated 14-16 million people are currently infected worldwide, mostly in Latin America, although there are 300,000 persons infected in the USA. Current treatments are prolonged, toxic and incompletely effective.

The award is to support the laboratory efforts of a team of researchers headed by David A. Stevens, MD, Principal Investigator of CIMR’s Infectious Disease Research Laboratory, and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC). The team includes CIMR’s Karl V. Clemons, PhD (Biohazards Director) and Marife Martinez; Raymond Sobel, MD of the Palo Alto VA Med. Ctr.; Fausto Araujo, PhD of the Palo Alto Medical Research Foundation; Jose Ferreira, PhD and Rodrigo Correa-Oliveira, PhD of the Univ. of Minais Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Jill Adler-Moore, PhD of Cal Poly Pomona (California State Univ.), and Ben Seligman at Stanford. Drs. Stevens, Clemons and Sobel also hold faculty appointments at Stanford.

The researchers are trying to develop a short-course safe and effective therapy, relying on their prior experience with intravenous treatment of invasive fungal infections, using a drug called “AmBisome”, which is a lipid form of the drug amphotericin. Their laboratory studies are estimated to take up to a year, because of the chronic nature of the infection, and if successful, would be followed by clinical trials. CIMR is located on the SCVMC campus, and SCVMC is affiliated with Stanford Medical School.