Ultrasound method to predict worm burden in the hunt for new drugs to treat Lymphatic Filariasis

News article 12 Apr 2018

Researchers from LSTM’s Research Centre for Drugs and Diagnostics (RCDD), have developed an ultrasound technique to reliably detect infection with the parasites which cause lymphatic filariasis during pre-clinical trials to reduce the number of animals needed to test new drugs.

The research has been published in the open access journal Scientific Reports and shows that the detection and quantification of parasite burdens using this non-invasive method effectively reduces the number of animals required to evaluate how well a new drug is working. This can also help to shorten the experimental time frame needed to assess whether a drug is going to be effective or not.

LSTM’s Dr Joseph Turner is senior author on the study. He said: “A prerequisite in the development of new anti-filarial drug cures is their testing in appropriate animal models. This informs us how well a drug candidate works prior to deciding whether to undertake extensive preclinical safety evaluations and ultimately translating into clinical trials. Animal models of filariasis are hampered by large variation in worm burdens between animals which means large numbers of animals are needed to accurately assess drug response. The ultrasound technique we have developed reduces overall number of animals required for testing by as much as 40% and also negates the need to use surgical options to reduce the variation in parasite loads. We will certainly now implement this strategy in future drug research.”

The work was funded by a PhD Studentship award by the National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research. Amy Marriott, the recipient of the studentship, added: “It is really pleasing to see an objective of my research project making an impact on the total numbers of animals used in the laboratory. The ultrasound can be done using a relatively inexpensive and portable machine. We hope that by publishing the work, other labs involved in anti-filarial drug R&D will also adopt this technique in the future.”

Validation of ultrasound bioimaging to predict worm burden and treatment efficacy in preclinical filariasis drug screening models (SREP-17-47446)  
Amy E. Marriott, Hanna Sjoberg, Hayley Tyrer, Joanne Gamble, Emma Murphy, John Archer, Andrew Steven, Mark J. Taylor & Joseph D. Turner- Show fewer authors
Scientific Reports 8, 5910