Sara Lustigman of the New York Blood Center in the U.S. will develop a three-dimensional in vitro culturing system to support the development of infective larvae of parasitic filarial worms through to adulthood. Currently adult filarial worms can only be isolated in limited numbers from infected humans or animals, which precludes high throughput drug screening. The team will build three-dimensional cultures by testing different synthetic scaffolds with defined cell types in order to more closely mimic the human lymphatic vessels and nodules where these parasites normally reside, thereby encouraging their long-term growth. This will provide the greater numbers needed to screen for drugs that specifically kill adult worms, which are needed to eliminate this common and debilitating group of diseases.
More information about New Approaches in Model Systems, Diagnostics, and Drugs for Specific Neglected Tropical Diseases (Round 10)