ZP5 is focused on developing treatments for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These diseases are defined by the World Health Organization, WHO, as a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries and affect more than one billion people, costing more than a billion dollars every year.1 Affecting more than one-sixth of the world’s population and with half of the world’s population being at risk of infection, NTDs are a symptom of poverty and disadvantage. Despite the global burden of NTDs being equivalent to at least half of the combined global burden of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, NTDs have a low profile and low status in public health priorities and disproportionately affect poorer people and people of color. 2 


ZP5’s initial focus is Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH). STHs are a group of intestinal parasites, roundworm (Ascaris), hookworm (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale) and whipworm (Trichuris), that together total approximately 2 billion infections worldwide. All three worms are global in distribution and are prevalent in the poorest communities in the world where the availability of good sanitation and hygiene is lacking.  Despite the fact there have been medications available to treat these infections for decades, it is thought that only 10% of people infected are treated annually.2


Children, who are inherently at critical stages of physiologic, mental and physical development, are disproportionately impacted by STHs, and are extremely vulnerable to suffering additional complications from these infections including anemia, leading to poor birth outcomes, malnutrition, stunted growth, cognitive defects, and intestinal obstructions.2   

z U.S.

Although we believe and think of STHs as only being a problem of the developing world, less than 50 years ago STHs, hookworms in particular, were a rampant problem in the US and in 1910, 40% of the southern US was infected with hookworm.3  Up until as recently as 2017, it was believed that STHs had been eradicated in the US. However, a study published that year uncovered that in certain regions within the southern US, as much as 34% of people in a community were infected with hookworm.4

1 https://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/diseases/en/

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK62526/

3 https://rockfound.rockarch.org/eradicating-hookworm

4 http://www.ajtmh.org/content/journals/10.4269/ajtmh.17-0396