LONDON, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Scientists said Wednesday they had identified a new treatment for the potentially fatal disease known as African sleeping sickness, which infects tens of thousands of Africans each year.
The findings, published in the British journal "Nature," pave the way for the development of effective, orally administered, low toxicity drugs to treat the disease.
"This is one of the most significant findings made in recent years in terms of drug discovery and development for neglected diseases," said Professor Paul Wyatt, director of the Drug Discovery for Tropical Diseases program at the University of Dundee, Scotland.
The World Health Organization estimates between 50,000 and 70,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis, which is spread by the bite of the tsetse fly.
The disease is caused by a single-celled parasite called trypanosome that can infect the brain and disrupt the sleep cycle.