The diseases produced by trypanosomatid parasites, like American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness, HAT) and Leishmaniasis constitute an urgent health problem gathered in the poorest regions of the world. These diseases are highly prevalent and classified as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to low historical investment by the pharmaceutical industry. Current chemotherapy is quite old and shows significant toxicity in the human host. Long treatments and complicated therapeutic regimes are needed. Additionally, drug resistance development have been observed.
Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry has emerged as an interesting alternative for the development of novel metal-based drug candidates against NTDs. Although in the past, research on vanadium medicinal chemistry has been mainly focused on improving biodistribution and tolerability of the vanadium insulin-enhancing core or on the development of antitumoral drugs, more recently, vanadium compounds were proposed by us for the treatment of diseases caused by parasites. In particular, searching for prospective vanadium-based drugs for the treatment of Chagas disease, our group has developed different series of structurally related homoleptic and heteroleptic oxidovanadium compounds using the strategy of coordinating bioactive ligands to the vanadium core. Results of stability in biological medium, activity against the three forms of T. cruzi life cycle, selectivity towards the parasite using VERO cells as mammalian cell model and metallomics in the parasite of the compounds will be presented and discussed.