Corallopyronin A - a promising antibiotic for treatment of filariasis.Int J Med Microbiol. 2014 Jan; 304(1):72-8.IJ
Lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis are diseases of severe morbidity that affect the poorest of the poor in the world. The diseases are caused by filarial nematodes that are transmitted by mosquitoes or biting blackflies and are endemic to more than 80 countries worldwide, mainly in the tropics and sub-tropics. Current control programs aim to eliminate the diseases by distributing antifilarial drugs. However, the primary effect of the drugs is to kill the microfilariae in the blood or skin, thus preventing uptake by the obligate insect vector. Since the adult worms live 10 years or longer, drug distribution requires many years of treatment, which is a heavy burden on the burgeoning health care systems. Sub-optimal response, possible resistance and inadequate population coverage lessen the chances for successful elimination in all endemic areas. The search for new drugs that could enhance elimination by permanently sterilizing or killing adult worms has identified the Wolbachia intracellular bacteria of filarial nematodes as a target. Depleting the obligate endosymbionts from the worms with doxycycline or rifampicin causes a permanent block in oogenesis, embryogenesis and development, and in slow death of the adult worms. These two antibiotics are suitable for individual drug administration, but caveats exist for their inclusion in broader drug administration programs. Here we review Wolbachia as targets for antifilarial drug discovery and highlight the natural product corallopyronin A as an effective drug that is currently being developed specifically for use against filarial nematodes.