Topical Compounds to Treat Leishmania

A new class of drugs for the treatment of Leishmania.

Leishmaniasis is an infection caused by Leishmania parasites, spread by the bite of phlebotomine sand flies. It is prevalent in the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe and is considered a neglected disease. Over a million people are infected with the parasite yearly, leading to skin sores and inflammation of internal organs such as the spleen, liver, and bone marrow.

The Need

Currently, the therapy against leishmaniasis comprises five drugs: antimonials, amphotericin B, miltefosine, paromomycin, and pentamidine. However, these compounds have limited patient adherence due to high toxicity and the need for prolonged parenteral administration, and limited efficacy against resistant strains.

The Technology

This technology describes sterol compounds derived from the plant, Pentalinon andrieuxii, to treat leishmaniasis and similar diseases. The inventors identified several compounds and tested them within in vivo assays in the laboratory. Treatment with drugs led to significant activity against cutaneous Leishmania, and the drugs can be delivered topically.

Commercial Applications

This invention can be used as an oral or topical treatment for cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis as well as other similar diseases.


There are limited safe and efficacious treatments for leishmaniasis; hence, this technology could become the first viable treatment for this devastating condition. Additionally, there is a short and efficient route of compound synthesis and one compound, pentalinonsterol, shows outstanding activity comparable to that of the standard anti-leishmanial drug Pentostam.


Issued U.S. patent – 10,174,072


Loading icon