Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, VOLUME 117 | 2022

Translational research in Chagas disease: perspectives in nutritional therapy emerging from selenium supplementation studies as a complementary treatment

Tania C de Araujo-Jorge+, Roberto R Ferreira

Fundação Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Laboratório de Inovação em Terapias, Ensino e Bioprodutos, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

DOI: 10.1590/0074-0276220001
959 views 561 downloads

Translational research (TR) is an interdisciplinary branch of the biomedical field that seeks to connect its three supporting pillars: basic research on the bench, the hospital beds and other health system services, and the delivery of products for the well-being and health of the community. Here, we review the five transition stages of the TR spectrum, registering the lessons learned during > 20 years leading to the first clinical trial designed and performed in Brazil for testing a complementary treatment for Chagas disease (CD): the selenium trial (STCC). Lessons learned were: (1) to consider all the TR spectrum since the beginning of the project; (2) to start simultaneously animal studies and translation to humans; (3) to ensure a harmonious interaction between clinical and basic research teams; (4) to include MSc and PhD students only in pre-clinical and basic studies (TR0) or vertical clinical studies using retrospective samples and data (TR1); (5) to identify potential suppliers in the national commercial market for a future final treatment since the pre-clinical stage; (6) to keep an international network of experts as permanent advisers on the project. In the whole process, some perspectives were created: a complementary clinical trial for the opened questions and the construction of a Brazilian clinical CD platform.

01. WHO - World Health Organization. Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) [Online]. 2021. Available from: health-topics/chagas-disease# [Accessed March 12nd 2021].
02. Cohrs RJ, Martin T, Ghahramani P, Bidaut L, Higgins PJ, Shahzad A. Translational medicine definition by the European Society for Translational Medicine. New Horiz Transl Med. 2015; 2: 86-8.
03. Zoellner J, Van Horn L, Gleason PM, Boushey CJ. What is translational research? Concepts and applications in nutrition and dietetics. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015; 115: 1057-71.
04. Hall A, Zhang Y, MacArthur C, Baker S. The role of nutrition in integrated programs to control neglected tropical diseases. BMC Med. 2012; 10: 41.
05. Handy DE, Joseph J, Loscalzo J. Selenium, a micronutrient that modulates cardiovascular health via redox enzymology. Nutrients. 2021; 13: 3238.
06. Werneck GL, Hasselmann MH, Gouvêa TG. An overview of studies on nutrition and neglected diseases in Brazil. Cien Saude Colet. 2011; 16(1): 39-62.
07. Rassi Jr A, Marin-Neto JA, Rassi A. Chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy: a review of the main pathogenic mechanisms and the efficacy of aetiological treatment following the BENznidazole Evaluation for Interrupting Trypanosomiasis (BENEFIT) trial. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2017; 112(3): 224-35.
08. Souza AP, Oliveira GM, Nève J, Vanderpas J, Pirmez C, De Castro SL, et al. Trypanosoma cruzi: host selenium deficiency leads to higher mortality but similar parasitemia in mice. Exp Parasitol. 2002; 101: 193.
09. de Souza AP, Jelicks LA, Tanowitz HB, Olivieri BP, Medeiros MM, Oliveira GM, et al. The benefits of using selenium in the treatment of Chagas disease: prevention of right ventricle chamber dilatation and reversion of Trypanosoma cruzi-induced acute and chronic cardiomyopathy in mice. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2010; 105(6): 746-51.
10. Rivera MT, Souza AP, Hasslocher-Moreno A, Xavier SS, Gomes JAS, Rocha MOC, et al. Progressive Chagas’ cardiomyopathy is associated with low selenium levels. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2002; 66: 706.
11. Holanda MT, Mediano MFF, Hasslocher-Moreno AM, Gonzaga BMS, Carvalho ACC, Ferreira RR, et al. Effects of selenium treatment on cardiac function in Chagas heart disease: Results from the STCC randomized Trial. EClinicalMedicine. 2021; 40: 101105.
12. Jelicks LA, Souza AP, Araujo-Jorge TC, Tanowitz HB. Would selenium supplementation aid in therapy for Chagas disease? Trends Parasitol. 2011; 27: 102.
13. Alcolea V, Perez-Silanes S. Selenium as an interesting option for the treatment of Chagas disease: a review. Eur J Med Chem. 2020; 206: 112673.
14. Pinazo MJ, Pinto J, Ortiz L, Sánchez J, García W, Saravia R, et al. A strategy for scaling up access to comprehensive care in adults with Chagas disease in endemic countries: the Bolivian Chagas Platform. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017; 11(8): e0005770.
15. Araujo-Jorge TC, Ferreira RR, Rocha RMC, Vieira TM, Costa ND, Santos LL, et al. “Chagas Express XXI”: a new ArtScience social technology for health and science education — A case study in Brazilian endemic areas of Chagas disease with an active search of chronic cases. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2021; 15(7): e0009534.

Financial support: This research was funded by the Department of the Industrial Complex and Innovation in Health from the Brazilian Health Ministry (IOC Fiotec IOC-001-LIV-11-2-1; 25380.001603/2017-89;, CNPq (309545/2014-5; 313011/2018-4, 159947/2018-9;, FAPERJ [E-26/010.001855/2014; E26/201.838/2017; E-26/201.983/2020 (257397)], IOC/Fiocruz (
+ Corresponding author:
Received 04 January 2022
Accepted 17 January 2022

Our Location

Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz

Av. Brasil 4365, Castelo Mourisco 
sala 201, Manguinhos, 21040-900 
Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Tel.: +55-21-2562-1222

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Support Program

logo iocb

logo governo federal03d 
faperj cnpq capes