There are no oral drugs for human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, sleeping sickness). A successful oral drug would have the potential to reduce or eliminate the need for patient hospitalization, thus reducing healthcare costs of HAT. The development of oral medications is a key objective of the Consortium for Parasitic Drug Development (CPDD). In this study, we investigated the safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of a new orally administered CPDD diamidine prodrug, 2,5-bis[5-(N-methoxyamidino)-2-pyridyl]furan (DB868; CPD-007-10), in the vervet monkey model of first stage HAT. DB868 was well tolerated at a dose up to 30 mg/kg/day for 10 days, a cumulative dose of 300 mg/kg. Mean plasma levels of biomarkers indicative of liver injury (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase) were not significantly altered by drug administration. In addition, no kidney-mediated alterations in creatinine and urea concentrations were detected. Pharmacokinetic analysis of plasma confirmed that DB868 was orally available and was converted to the active compound DB829 in both uninfected and infected monkeys. Treatment of infected monkeys with DB868 began 7 days post-infection. In the infected monkeys, DB829 attained a median Cmax (dosing regimen) that was 12-fold (3 mg/kg/day for 7 days), 15-fold (10 mg/kg/day for 7 days), and 31-fold (20 mg/kg/day for 5 days) greater than the IC50 (14 nmol/L) against T. b. rhodesiense STIB900. DB868 cured all infected monkeys, even at the lowest dose tested. In conclusion, oral DB868 cured monkeys with first stage HAT at a cumulative dose 14-fold lower than the maximum tolerated dose and should be considered a lead preclinical candidate in efforts to develop a safe, short course (5–7 days), oral regimen for first stage HAT.
Development of orally administered medicines for human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) would potentially reduce the need for patient hospitalization, thus lowering healthcare costs. In this study, we investigated the potential of a novel diamidine prodrug, DB868 (CPD-007-10), as an oral treatment for first stage HAT. When administered to uninfected monkeys by oral gavage, DB868 was well tolerated up to a maximum dose of 30 mg/kg/day for 10 days (cumulative dose [CD] = 300 mg/kg). DB868 was absorbed into the systemic circulation and was converted to the active compound DB829 in concentrations that were potentially therapeutic for blood trypanosomes. Subsequently, DB868 was evaluated for efficacy in the first stage vervet monkey model of HAT in which treatment was initiated at 7 days post-infection with T. b. rhodesiense KETRI 2537. All infected monkeys were cured, even at the lowest of the three dose regimens tested: 3 mg/kg/day for 7 days (CD = 21 mg/kg), 10 mg/kg/day for 7 days (CD = 70 mg/kg) and 20 mg/kg/day for 5 days (CD = 100 mg/kg). DB868 conversion to DB829 was comparable between uninfected and infected monkeys. In view of its favourable safety and oral efficacy profile, we conclude that DB868 is a suitable candidate for development as a new treatment for first stage HAT.