Trypanosomiasis (whether African sleeping sickness, or American Chaga’s disease) is caused by an infection with a protozoan parasite, i.e. the trypanosome. This carries fatal sequences in the untreated host. Currently available chemotherapeutic drugs (some of which cure by involving reactive oxygen species (ROS] are not optimally adequate. They are toxic as well, and may also be carcinogenic. It is therefore desirable to devise better chemotherapeutic regimens. ROS destroy the parasite, but excess ROS damage host tissue and are potentially carcinogenic. Alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) inhibits ornithine decarboxylase and so lowers the levels of spermine and spermidine. This singular effect in the parasite inhibits its multiplication, whereas in the host tissue it prevents carcinogenesis by preventing cell proliferation. Thus, combination of ROS-generating drugs with DFMO would be very effective against trypanosomiasis, and would be without cancer risk too. The combination is therefore advocated for chemotherapy of trypanosoma infections. This necessities experimental investigations specifically directed towards establishing the optimally efficacious combination of DFMO with the drugs.
Medical Hypotheses 12/1991; 36(3):246-9. DOI:10.1016/0306-9877(91)90142-L