Drug development and evaluation for helminths and other neglected tropical diseases: Business Plan 2008-2013
Helminthiases are responsible for an enormous burden of disease in developing countries. This has been highlighted in recent years through WHO's development and promotion of an integrated strategy to address neglected tropical diseases. Although many new PPP's have been established for the development of drugs against certain neglected infectious diseases, none of them addresses the drug needs for human helminths and a variety of other diseases. The control of helminthiases is based on preventive mass chemotherapy of populations at risk. Effective drugs are available, but they are few, and their extended use carries the risk of drug resistance development. Further research is also required to support their scaled-up use in combinations. The situation is particularly critical for onchocerciasis for which annual mass treatment with ivermectin has brought the disease under control but has not eliminated the adult parasites. The development of a safe macrofilaricide that would allow onchocerciasis eradication is therefore a top research priority. The drugs for lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis control have also limited effect on the adult or immature stages of the parasites, and more potent drugs would be of immense value for more effective control or elimination of these diseases.