A New Treatment of Sleeping Sickness


    AT a meeting of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene held on May 20, Dr. Claude H. Marshall, senior medical officer of the Uganda Protectorate, read a paper on a new treatment of trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) which had been originated by Dr. S. M. Vassallo, of the Uganda Medical Service, and himself. Remedies injected into the circulation, though they may sterilise the blood, probably do not destroy the parasites in the central nervous system, since the trypanosomes produce thickening and occlusion of the choroid plexus at an early stage of the disease, and thus prevent the passage of drugs from the circulation into the spinal fluid. In 1918, therefore, in a well-marked case of sleeping sickness, an intravenous injection of neokharsivan was made, and three hours afterwards 2 oz. of the patient's blood was withdrawn; 20 minims of the serum was then injected into the spinal canal, and no further treatment was given; twenty-seven months afterwards the patient was quite well, and his blood free from parasites. Of thirty cases similarly treated a large majority were quite well at periods varying from six and a half to twenty-seven months afterwards. The results are supposed to be due only in part to the drug contained in the serum; it is held that an antibody, trypanolysin, is formed in the blood of an infected patient, but that this cannot in ordinary circumstances reach, the parasites in the central nervous system. Acting on this view, Dr. Vassallo is now treating cases along similar lines, but without previous intravenous injection of the drug. Later speakers emphasised the value of the work of Dr. Marshall and his colleague; but it was pointed out that it was early as yet to claim that the cases were permanently cured.

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    A New Treatment of Sleeping Sickness. Nature 107, 540 (1921). https://doi.org/10.1038/107540a0

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