Onchocerciasis is an eye and skin disease caused by the parasite Onchocerca volvulus. It causes intense itching and skin rashes, swelling and ultimately severe dermatitis, and damage in the eye can lead to impaired vision and ultimately blindness.

TDR has a long history of research to support the control of this disease, dating back to the partnership with the Onchocerciasis Control Programme that eliminated the mosquito that transmitted the disease in West Africa. TDR research with the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) has demonstrated how community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) is a sustainable and improved way of controlling the disease, and shows the possibility of eliminating transmission of the parasite.

More recently, research supported the identification of genetic markers of the parasite’s response to ivermectin and evaluating another compound, moxidectin, for its potential to accelerate elimination of onchocerciasis and expand the areas where elimination of transmission is feasible.