he Efficacy of Various Antibiotics at Targeting Wolbachia for the Treatment of Lymphatic Filariasis

Investigator: Emma Gunderson, MS
Sponsor: Global Health Sciences Education

Location(s): United States


Mentor: Dr. Judy Sakanari 

Considered one of the leading causes of global disability, lymphatic filariasis afflicts an estimated 120 million people living in impoverished countries in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Lymphatic filariasis or elephantiasis is caused by filarid nematodes that infect the lymphatic tissues and cause extreme swelling of the limbs and genitalia. Current drug treatments mainly target the microfilariae (first-stage larvae) but the adult worms, which can live for several years, continue to release these larvae and thus perpetuate the lifecycle. Researchers in drug discovery programs are now interested in targeting the nematode’s bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia, as a potential target to eliminate the adult worms. The aim of my project is to determine the efficacy of various novel and repurposed antibiotics on the adult filarid nematode, Brugia pahangi and its endosymbiont Wolbachia, and their use as possible candidates to treat lymphatic filariasis.