By Sharon Atieno

Despite Eumycetoma, a deadly neglected disease caused by fungal infection, resulting in high amputation rates and high recurrence rates due to low treatments; there is hope for patients as a new drug is undergoing trials.

Speaking during the fourth Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) conference, Dr. Borna Nyaoke-Anoke, a Senior project manager and medical manager at the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative (DNDi) revealed that Fosravuconazole, a more effective, shorter-term treatment appropriate for rural settings is undergoing trials in Sudan.

Eumycetoma, a form of Mycetoma disease, is responsible for 40% of Mycetoma cases worldwide. It is endemic in Africa with the cure rate of anti-fungals being only 25% to 35%, notes Dr. Nyaoke-Anoke.

Ketoconazole and Itraconazole were a 12-month long treatment with serious side effects and unaffordable with drugs rising up to USD 2500 annually.

She mentioned that the clinical trials began in 2017 and by 2020, 104 out of 138 patients 15 years and above have been enrolled, with the target being 6 to 10 participants monthly.

So far, 84 patients have completed the study which is being conducted by DNDi and Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT).

The drug is set to be released between 2023 and 2025.

In 2016, Mycetoma disease which also includes Actinomycetoma, caused by bacterial infection, was added to the World Health Organization (WHO) list of neglected tropical diseases (NTD).

The disease which exists in its two forms (through fungal or bacterial infection) is prevalent in Chad, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Sudan, Senegal and Somalia, as well as Mexico, India and Yemen.

Though there is no definitive theory about the route of transmission, said Dr. Nyaoke-Anoke, the infection may come from the soil or animal dung, and it is thought that it enters the body after the skin has been pricked for example, by a thorn.

She calls for increased research, early case detection, global advocacy and health education to respond to this disease.