New drug candidate for the curative treatment of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis

News article 15 Nov 2016

The LSTM based A-WOL consortium discovered the molecule TylAMac™ , which has been selected as a candidate for development as the first drug designed for the curative treatment of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis.

LSTM Professors Mark Taylor and Steve Ward are meeting with collaborators from Abbvie and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) to discuss the progress of the new candidate at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (ASTMH) in Atlanta, USA.

The discovery represents many firsts: it is the first new candidate drug to emerge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded A-WOL consortium; the first drug ever designed specifically for onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis); and the first drug designed to deliver a macrofilaricide action (killing of adult parasites) by eliminating the mutualistic endosymbiont Wolbachia from the parasite.

This milestone marks the culmination of almost a decade of research by the A-WOL consortium to identify new macrofilaricide drugs. LSTM’s Deputy Director, Professor Steve Ward said: “The achievement of candidate selection with TylAMac™ demonstrates the power of product development partnerships, in this case A-WOL, Abbvie and DNDi, in delivering efficient and relevant drug discovery projects for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that are innovative and meet international regulatory standards.”

Current treatments for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis are based on repeated mass drug administration (MDA) of antiparasitic drugs once yearly for between five and 15 years. The drugs used in MDA programmes are ivermectin for onchocerciasis; albendazole for lymphatic filariasis; and albendazole plus either ivermectin in areas where onchocerciasis is also endemic, or diethylcarbamazine in areas where it is not. Professor Mark Taylor added: "This new designer antibiotic will dramatically reduce the time frame of elimination programmes and provide a safe alternative treatment in areas at risk of Loiasis driven adverse events to ivermectin."