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Protein Kinases as Potential Targets for Novel Anti-Schistosomal Strategies

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Schistosome parasites are the causative pathogens of schistosomiasis (bilharzia), a disease of worldwide significance. In terms of patient numbers, schistosomiasis ranks second to malaria as a parasitosis affecting more than 200 million people of the tropics and subtropics. Since the 1970s Praziquantel (PZQ) is the drug of choice and nearly exclusively used for treatment. However, drug resistance is an increasing threat, particularly with respect to large-scale PZQ administration programs. Last decade's research indicated that resistance against PZQ can be induced under laboratory conditions, and field studies provided first indications for the possibility of reduced PZQ efficacy. Furthermore, clear evidence for the molecular armamentarium of schistosomes with multidrug transporters was found, one of which was responding to PZQ challenge. Also the development of a vaccine still represents an elusive goal, although effort and time have been invested in this subject. In light of these facts it is commonly accepted that new drugs are urgently needed. Research on signal transduction processes in Schistosoma mansoni has provided an unexpected and novel perspective towards this end. Molecular, biochemical, and physiological studies elucidating principles of schistosome development have demonstrated the essential role of protein kinases (PKs). In humans, PKs are known to be involved in cancer development. Since a variety of approved anticancer drugs targeting PKs exist, first studies have been performed to investigate whether these drugs are able to also inhibit schistosome PKs. Indeed, promising results have been obtained indicating the potential of PKs as privileged targets for new concepts in fighting schistosomes.
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Keywords: Dasatinib; Imatinib; Nilotinib; Schistosomiasis; bilharzia; kinase inhibitor; praziquantel; protein kinase; signal transduction; vaccine

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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