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Alveolar And Cystic Echinococcosis: Towards Novel Chemotherapeutical Treatment Options

A. Hemphill, J. Müller

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AbstractEchinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis are cestode parasites, of which the metacestode (larval) stages cause the neglected diseases cystic echinococcosis (CE) and alveolar echinococcosis (AE), respectively. The benzimidazoles albendazole and mebendazole are presently used for the chemotherapeutical treatment, alone or prior to and after surgery. However, in AE these benzimidazoles do not appear to be parasiticidal in vivo. In addition, failures in drug treatments as well as the occurrence of side-effects have been reported, leading to discontinuation of treatment or to progressive disease. Therefore, new drugs are needed to cure AE and CE. Strategies that are currently employed in order to identify novel chemotherapeutical treatment options include in vitro and in vivo testing of broad-spectrum anti-infective drugs or drugs that interfere with unlimited proliferation of cancer cells. The fact that the genome of E. multilocularis has recently been sequenced has opened other avenues, such as the selection of novel drugs that interfere with the parasite signalling machinery, and the application of in silico approaches by employing the Echinococcus genome information to search for suitable targets for compounds of known mode of action.