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Turning the Worm Against its Symbiont

Denis Voronin of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom will identify new drugs for treating common and debilitating human parasitic diseases known as filariasis, which are caused by nematode worms, by specifically targeting their essential bacterial symbiont, Wolbachia. They will develop a screening strategy based on the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, and search for compounds that can induce an intracellular degradation mechanism known as autophagy to activate the parasite's immune system and thereby eliminate the resident Wolbachia, which are essential for parasite survival. This alternative approach should dramatically reduce the time needed to treat lymphatic filariasis compared to current antibiotic-based treatments, which directly target Wolbachia, require long-term administration, and can lead to the development of resistance.

More information about New Approaches in Model Systems, Diagnostics, and Drugs for Specific Neglected Tropical Diseases (Round 10)

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Grand Challenges partnership network. Visit www.grandchallenges.org to view the map of awarded grants across this network and grant opportunities from partners.