Antischistosomal drugs: past, present ... and future?

Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Donato CioliS Archer

Abstract

The major antischistosomal drugs that have been or still are in use against infections with schistosomes are considered here together with some compounds that have not been in clinical use, but show interesting characteristics. Each individual compound presents aspects that may be enlightening about parasite biochemistry, parasite biology, and host-parasite relationships. Special attention is given to the mechanisms of action, an understanding of which is seen here as a major factor of progress in chemotherapy. Three compounds are currently in use, i.e., metrifonate, oxamniquine, and praziquantel, and all three are included in the World Health Organization list of essential drugs. They are analyzed in some detail, as each one presents advantages and disadvantages in antischistosomal therapy. The reported occurrence of drug-resistant schistosomes after treatment with oxamniquine and praziquantel suggests strict monitoring of such phenomena and encourages renewed efforts toward the development of multiple drugs against this human parasite.

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