Lymphatic filariasis (LF, “elephantiasis”) and onchocerciasis (Oncho, “river blindness”) are major
“neglected tropical diseases” NTD’s and causes of disability in the developing world. These related diseases are caused by different species of filarial nematode parasites. The Onchocerciasis Control Programme was one of the first major international control programs for a parasitic NTD and the first to be based on mass drug administration (MDA). Current programs for LF and Oncho (APOC, OEPA, GPELF) are based on MDA with donated drugs (Ivermectin from Merck and Albendazole from GSK). Many hundreds of millions of people in the tropics have benefitted from these programs. However, more effective MDA regimens and strategies will be needed if we are to achieve the goals of global elimination of LF by 2020 and elimination (rather than the more limited goal of temporary control) of Oncho. This is because available drugs only temporarily clear microfilariae (parasite larvae that are required for transmission) without killing all adult worms. Thus, MDA must be administered for the reproductive life of adult parasites (more than 5 years for LF and more than 10 years for Oncho). In addition, large areas of Africa are off limits to MDA programs for these diseases because the drugs can cause severe adverse events (SAE’s) in people who are coinfected with the filarial parasite Loa loa.

This project, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, includes an ambitious set of complementary applied research projects that share the common goal of optimizing therapy to improve chances for elimination of LF and Onchocerciasis. In addition, the project aims to improve chances for LF and/or Oncho control in Loa loa coendemic areas. As an integrated NTD research project, DOLF will also study the impact of MDA on soil transmitted helminth (STH) infections in different endemic settings.

To view the locations where these studies will be performed, see Study Sites.

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