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J Biomol Screen. 2015 Jan;20(1):64-9. doi: 10.1177/1087057114551518. Epub 2014 Oct 2.

Development and validation of a high-throughput anti-Wolbachia whole-cell screen: a route to macrofilaricidal drugs against onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.

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Department of Parasitology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK.
Department of Parasitology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK


There is an urgent need to develop new, safe, and affordable macrofilaricidal drugs for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis treatment and control. The Anti-Wolbachia Consortium (A·WOL) aims to provide a novel treatment with macrofilaricidal activity by targeting the essential bacterial symbiont Wolbachia. The consortium is currently screening a diverse range of compounds to find new chemical space to drive this drug discovery initiative and address this unmet demand. To increase the throughput and capacity of the A·WOL cell-based screen, we have developed a 384-well format assay using a high-content imaging system (Operetta) in conjunction with optimized Wolbachia growth dynamics in the C6/36 Aedes albopictus mosquito cell line. This assay uses texture analysis of cells stained with SYTO 11 as a direct measure of bacterial load. This validated assay has dramatically increased the capacity and throughput of the A·WOL compound library screening program 25-fold, enriching the number of new anti-Wolbachia hits identified for further development as potential macrofilaricides for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.


cell-based assays; fluorescence methods; high-content screening; phenotypic drug discovery

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