NIH UH2 award to develop a new drug for Chagas Disease

Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc., UC San Diego and University of Sao Paulo (USP), Sao Paulo, Brazil, Receive NIH UH2 Award “Repurposing pyronaridine as a treatment for Chagas disease” 

September 13th, 2017: Raleigh – The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently awarded $607,054 to Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CPI), University of California San Diego and University of Sao Paolo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, to repurpose pyronaridine as a treatment for Chagas Disease. 

Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease caused by the kinetoplastid parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. Cruzi) and currently affecting 6-7 million people. The disease is endemic to Latin America but is increasingly found in North America and Europe, primarily through immigration. There may be more than 300,000 people in the U.S. with Chagas. About 30% of those infected develop cardiomyopathy and 10% will develop a digestive syndrome. Both pathological manifestations progress, ultimately leading to death. Organ transplantation is the only available remedy. There is currently only one FDA approved drug which has side effects.

“This academic-industrial collaboration between UC San Diego, Fundação Faculdade de Medicina, Sao Paulo, Brazil and Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. aims to repurpose a drug that’s already approved in Europe for malaria but not approved in the U.S. for any indication.” said Sean Ekins, CEO of CPI.  

“We identified this compound in an earlier collaboration that involved using public data and machine learning to predict compounds with activity for testing,” said Dr. Jair Siqueira-Neto, assistant professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego. “When we tested pyronaridine in vitro and in vivo in the acute infection model, it was very efficacious.”  

“Our goals of this study are to assess whether pyronaridine can be used as a single or combination therapy in chronic models of Chagas disease before ultimately designing a clinical trial,” said Professor Ester Sabino, USP, Brazil. 

“We are immensely honored that NCATS decided to fund this work as we try to develop this treatment that is derived from a computational approach to drug repurposing, a strategy we are utilizing for other neglected and rare diseases,” said Dr. Ekins. 

About UC San Diego - At the University of California San Diego, we constantly push boundaries and challenge expectations. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to take risks and redefine conventional wisdom. Today, as one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at  

University of Sao Paulo (USP) - The University of Sao Paulo is the largest higher education and research institution in Brazil.  USP is composed of seven campuses that offers 230 undergraduate courses and 57,000 undergraduate students. Graduate studies at USP, with more than 500 fields of concentration areas (MAs and PhDs) and approximately 38,000 students, are an international point of reference for Science and Technology in Brazil.   

About Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc.- Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. performs research and development on innovative therapeutics for multiple rare and infectious diseases. We partner with leading academics, companies and foundations to identify and translate early preclinical to clinical stage assets. We have considerable experience in preclinical and computational approaches to drug discovery and toxicity prediction. For more information, please visit 

For further information, please contact: 

Sean Ekins, Ph.D., D.Sc., CEO and Founder, 

Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 
840 Main Campus Drive, Lab 3510
Raleigh, NC 27606 

office: 919-515-5941 


Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center For Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UH2TR002084. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of   the National Institutes of Health.