Dr. Peter Sjö

Dr. Peter Sjö is Head of Discovery Projects at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) in Geneva, Switzerland, with a focus on the discovery and development of novel anti-parasite and antiviral drug treatments targeting neglected patients. Dr. Sjö has multiple years of industrial experience from Medicinal Chemistry applied to projects aimed at the discovery of novel treatments for infectious, respiratory and inflammatory diseases.

Discovery of novel treatments for Visceral Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) transmitted through the bites of infected female phlebotomine sandflies endemic in Africa, the Americas, South-East Asia, and Eastern Mediterranean that threatens an estimated one billion.

Leishmaniasis is a complex vector-borne disease, caused by more than 20 species of the protozoan genus Leishmania, and associated with clinical manifestations ranging from relatively benign localized skin ulcers to a systemic disease, causing severe damage to visceral organs that is fatal if left untreated. The different forms of the disease are categorized as visceral (VL), cutaneous (CL), mucocutaneous, and post-kala-azar dermal (PKDL) leishmaniasis.

Current treatment options are restricted and associated with significant limitations including variable efficacy, serious toxicities, lengthy treatments, with all but miltefosine requiring supervised intravenous or intramuscular administration. Thus, there is an urgent need for new, effective, safe, and convenient treatments.

This presentation describes the discovery and optimization of a novel class of highly potent anti-leishmanials based on substituted pyridine-2-sulfonamides. Their in vitro efficacy profile and effects in in vivo models of VL will be described.