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    Combinations of the azaquinazoline anti-Wolbachia agent, AWZ1066S, with benzimidazole anthelmintics synergise to mediate sub-seven-day sterilising and curative efficacies in experimental models of filariasis

    Hegde, Shrilakshmi, Marriott, Amy E, Pionnier, Nicolas ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2379-4945, Steven, Andrew, Bulman, Christina, Gunderson, Emma, Vogel, Ian, Koschel, Marianne, Ehrens, Alexandra, Lustigman, Sara, Voronin, Denis, Tricoche, Nancy, Hoerauf, Achim, Hübner, Marc P, Sakanari, Judy, Aljayyoussi, Ghaith, Gusovsky, Fabian, Dagley, Jessica, Hong, David W, O'Neill, Paul, Ward, Steven A, Taylor, Mark J and Turner, Joseph D (2024) Combinations of the azaquinazoline anti-Wolbachia agent, AWZ1066S, with benzimidazole anthelmintics synergise to mediate sub-seven-day sterilising and curative efficacies in experimental models of filariasis. Frontiers in Microbiology, 15. 1346068. ISSN 1664-302X

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    Abstract

    Lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis are two major neglected tropical diseases that are responsible for causing severe disability in 50 million people worldwide, whilst veterinary filariasis (heartworm) is a potentially lethal parasitic infection of companion animals. There is an urgent need for safe, short-course curative (macrofilaricidal) drugs to eliminate these debilitating parasite infections. We investigated combination treatments of the novel anti-Wolbachia azaquinazoline small molecule, AWZ1066S, with benzimidazole drugs (albendazole or oxfendazole) in up to four different rodent filariasis infection models: Brugia malayi—CB.17 SCID mice, B. malayi—Mongolian gerbils, B. pahangi—Mongolian gerbils, and Litomosoides sigmodontis—Mongolian gerbils. Combination treatments synergised to elicit threshold (>90%) Wolbachia depletion from female worms in 5 days of treatment, using 2-fold lower dose-exposures of AWZ1066S than monotherapy. Short-course lowered dose AWZ1066S-albendazole combination treatments also delivered partial adulticidal activities and/or long-lasting inhibition of embryogenesis, resulting in complete transmission blockade in B. pahangi and L. sigmodontis gerbil models. We determined that short-course AWZ1066S-albendazole co-treatment significantly augmented the depletion of Wolbachia populations within both germline and hypodermal tissues of B. malayi female worms and in hypodermal tissues in male worms, indicating that anti-Wolbachia synergy is not limited to targeting female embryonic tissues. Our data provides pre-clinical proof-of-concept that sub-seven-day combinations of rapid-acting novel anti-Wolbachia agents with benzimidazole anthelmintics are a promising curative and transmission-blocking drug treatment strategy for filarial diseases of medical and veterinary importance.

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