Schistosomiasis control: praziquantel forever?

Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Donato CioliAlessandra Guidi

Abstract

Since no vaccine exists against schistosomiasis and the molluscs acting as intermediate hosts are not easy to attack, chemotherapy is the main approach for schistosomiasis control. Praziquantel is currently the only available antischistosomal drug and it is distributed mainly through mass administration programs to millions of people every year. A number of positive features make praziquantel an excellent drug, especially with regard to safety, efficacy, cost and ease of distribution. A major flaw is its lack of efficacy against the immature stages of the parasite. In view of its massive and repeated use on large numbers of individuals, the development of drug resistance is a much feared possibility. The mechanism of action of praziquantel is still unclear, a fact that does not favor the development of derivatives or alternatives. A large number of compounds have been tested as potential antischistosomal agents. Some of them are promising, but none so far represents a suitable substitute or adjunct to praziquantel. The research of new antischistosomal compounds is an imperative and urgent matter.

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