ANTHELMINTICS – INTRODUCTION
Anthelmintics are agents used to eradicate intestinal worms (helminthes) from the body. Tapeworms, roundworms and flukes are classified as helminthes. Anthelmintics are effective in eradicating worms but proper hygiene is necessary to prevent re-infection. Washing hands properly before meals and after visiting the toilet is essenti
ANTHELMINTICS – INDICATION
Antihelminthic drugs are used to treat parasitic infestations.
The last half-century has provided all of the (few) drugs currently used to treat human helminthiases. Concern regarding the long-term utility of these drugs, given how readily resistance evolves in the veterinary-agricultural sector, spurs the discovery of new chemical entities.
ANTHELMINTICS – INFORMATION
Anthelmintics are drugs that are used to treat infections with parasitic worms. This includes both flat worms, e.g., flukes and tapeworms and round worms, i.e., nematodes. They are of huge importance for human tropical medicine and for veterinary medicine. The World Health Organization estimates that a staggering 2 billion people harbour parasitic worm infections (http://www.who.int/wormcontrol/statistics/). Parasitic worms also infect livestock and crops, affecting food production with a resultant economic impact. Also of importance is the infection of domestic pets. Indeed, the companion animal market is a major economic consideration for animal health companies undertaking drug discovery programmes.
Despite the prevalence of parasitic worms, anthelmintic drug discovery is the poor relation of the pharmaceutical industry. The simple reason is that the nations which suffer most from these tropical diseases have little money to invest in drug discovery or therapy. It comes as no surprise therefore that the drugs available for human treatment were first developed as veterinary medicines. There is thus a pitifully small repertoire of chemotherapeutic agents available for treatment (see Table 1). In some respects, this situation has been exacerbated by the remarkable success of ivermectin over the last twenty years (Geary, 2005), which has decreased motivation for anthelmintic drug discovery programmes (Geary, Sangster and Thompson, 1999). This prompts concern, as anthelmintic resistance has been widely reported in livestock and it may also only be a matter of time before this phenomenon occurs in parasites of humans.