African Programme for Onchocericasis Control (APOC) adopts doxycycline as an alternative therapy for the elimination of onchocerciasis.

News article 18 Dec 2013

Doxycycline therapy, which targets the essential symbiont Wolbachia, sterilizes and kills the long-lived adult Onchocerca volvulus parasites that cause river blindness.

An alternative to ivermectin is needed in individuals with co-infections of Loa loa throughout Central Africa who are at risk from dangerous side-effects, which has prompted APOC to recommend doxycycline as an alternative therapy in these patients.

Professor Mark Taylor, Head of Parasitology at LSTM and Director of A∙WOL presented the work of the A∙WOL consortium to the 19th APOC Joint Action Forum, in Brazzavillle, Congo. He summarized the key findings of the A∙WOL drug discovery and development programme, which aims to deliver new drugs, targeting Wolbachia, which could be scaled-up for mass drug administration.

Professor Taylor said: “The adoption of doxycycline by APOC is an important step forward in the fight to eliminate onchocerciasis. Together with OEPA, river blindness elimination programmes have recognized the benefits of a therapy, which cures the infection, enabling a more rapid progress to the elimination targets and providing an alternative safe therapy for patients co-infected with loiasis.  This paves the way to begin the implementation of macrofilaricidal therapies and encourages further improvements in drugs and regimens under development by A∙WOL.”

The A·WOL Consortium consists of an internationally recognised team of academic research scientists working in partnership with several pharma companies and is co-ordinated by a Management Team based at LSTM.