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Curr Top Med Chem. 2002 Jul;2(7):733-58.

Neuropeptide signaling systems - potential drug targets for parasite and pest control.

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Parasitology Research Group, School of Biology and Biochemistry, Queen' s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK.


Current problems of drug resistance in parasites and pests demand the identification of new targets and their exploitation through novel drug design and development programs. Neuropeptide signaling systems in helminths (nematodes and platyhelminths = worms) and arthropods are well developed and complex, play a crucial role in many aspects of their biology, and appear to have significant potential as targets for novel drugs. The best-known neuropeptide family in invertebrates is the FMRFamide-related peptides (FaRPs). Amongst many roles, FaRPs potently influence motor function. The genome sequencing projects of Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans have revealed unexpected complexity within the FaRPergic systems of arthropods and nematodes, although available evidence for platyhelminths indicates structural and functional simplicity. Regardless of these differences, FaRPs potently modulate motor function in arthropods, nematodes and platyhelminths and there appears to be at least some commonality in the FaRPergic signaling systems therein. Moreover, there is now increasing evidence of cross-phyla activity for individual FaRPs, providing clear signals of opportunities for target selection and the identification and development of broad-spectrum drugs.

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