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Scientists identify new leads for treating parasitic worm disease
Date:3/16/2008

waste contaminated by worm eggs finds its way into fresh water, the cycle begins again.

Currently, people living in more than 70 tropical nations require annual or semi-annual drug treatment to rid their bodies of the parasite. Since the 1980s, praziquantel has effectively been the sole drug used for this purpose. Public health experts are concerned that the Schistosoma parasites will become resistant to praziquantel and the drug will lose its effectiveness, as has been the case for agents used to combat many other infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

The search for new drugs for schistosomiasis is imperative if we are to control this devastating disease that exacts an enormous toll, both in terms of human suffering and economic development, said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

The new research, which was conducted with Schistosoma maintained in laboratory conditions, shows that an oxadiazole compound was effective in inhibiting a crucial worm enzyme, called thioredoxin glutathione reductase (TGR). Furthermore, in tests of laboratory mice infected with Schistosoma, this compound killed the parasite in all of its stages, from larva to adult. The results exceeded all benchmarks set by the World Health Organization for potential new compounds to treat schistosomiasis. Importantly, the researchers also showed that the compound was active against all three major species of Schistosoma worms that infect humans.

This builds upon my labs previous findings that Schistosoma worms survive in the host due to a protective enzyme TGR. By teaming with NCGC, we were able to move our research one step closer to the clinic by identifying a class of compounds that specifically target that enzyme, said the studys lead researcher, David L. Williams, Ph.D., a professor of biology at ISU and NIAID grantee. Still, much remains to be done. Our ultimate goal is to see our basic biological findings translated into help for people w
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Contact: Raymond MacDougall
macdougallr@mail.nih.gov
301-443-3523
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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