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Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2007 Jan;9(1):55-9.

Wolbachia in filarial parasites: targets for filarial infection and disease control.

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Filariasis Research Laboratory, Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, L3 5QA, UK.


Lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis are debilitating diseases caused by parasitic filarial nematodes. These nematodes have evolved a mutualistic symbiosis with intracellular bacteria of the genus Wolbachia, which are required for nematode embryogenesis and survival. The essential role of these bacteria in the biology of the nematode and their demonstrated involvement in the pathogenesis of filariasis make Wolbachia a promising novel chemotherapeutic target for the control of filarial infection and disease. This article reviews the recent findings, which highlight potential processes that form the basis of the symbiosis, the role of Wolbachia in filarial pathogenesis, and the efficacy of Wolbachia-targeted antibiotic chemotherapy in human trials. Future prospects for the development of an anti-Wolbachia treatment regimen suitable for integration into mass drug administration programs are also discussed.


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