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Schistosomiasis medicine

Male Schistosoma mansoni, the worm that transmits the disease

G. Healy / CDC

The US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) has granted orphan drug status to the immunomodulator P-MAPA, developed by research network Farmabrasilis, for use against schistosomiasis. It is the first time that a drug developed entirely in Brazil has obtained this qualification. Orphan drug status is used by the US government uses to encourage the development of drugs for diseases with a limited market. Globally, schistosomiasis is one of the most neglected diseases, affecting 200 million people worldwide—seven million are infected in Brazil alone. Orphan drug status provides access to facilities for conducting clinical trials, after which, if successful, P-MAPA can be registered and distributed in countries where schistosomiasis is endemic. Approval by the FDA was supported by in vitro and in vivo test results involving Schistosoma mansoni, the parasite that causes schistosomiasis, obtained by groups led by Bruno Carvalho, from the University of Pernambuco (UPE), and Fábio Melo, from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) in Recife.