AN2 Therapeutics has been granted an exclusive license from the University of Georgia Research Foundation to facilitate the advancement of a boron-containing small molecule to treat Chagas disease.

The boron-based molecules at the core of this research were initially uncovered through collaborative efforts between researchers at Anacor Pharmaceuticals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pfizer, and the University of Georgia. The research was made possible through grant funding from Wellcome.

The lead compound within this series, AN2-502998 (formerly referred to as AN15368), was developed in close cooperation with Professor Rick Tarleton, PhD, from the University of Georgia, who possesses expertise in Chagas disease and Trypanosoma cruzi biology.

Notably, preclinical activities related to this research have been financially supported by non-dilutive grant funding from Wellcome and have been conducted in partnership with Professor Tarleton.

AN2 Therapeutics co-founder, president, and CEO Eric Easom said: “AN2-502998 has the potential to be a game-changer for the treatment of individuals infected with T. cruzi, and at risk of developing clinical Chagas disease, which affects over seven million people worldwide.

“AN2-502998 is the only compound to date that demonstrates complete cures of infection in non-human primates with long-term, naturally acquired chronic infections of diverse T. cruzi genetic types.

“Professor Tarleton and scientists from AN2 have advanced this research, and with IND-enabling preclinical studies for AN2-502998 well underway, and this license in hand, we are excited to further develop AN2-502998 as a potential treatment for Chagas disease.”

Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is primarily transmitted through a subspecies of blood-feeding insects commonly referred to as “kissing bugs.”

The insects are given this name because they tend to bite people, often on the face and lips. Additionally, Chagas disease can be transmitted from infected mothers to their newborn babies.

This disease can progress slowly, and chronic infection typically leads to irreversible damage to heart and digestive system tissues.

The World Health Organization reports that approximately seven million people worldwide are believed to be infected with the T. cruzi parasite.

Notably, an increasing number of Chagas disease cases are being documented beyond the traditional high transmission areas, including regions in the US and Europe.