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The Redox Biology of Schistosome Parasites and Applications for Drug Development

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Schistosomiasis caused by Schistosoma spp. is a serious public health concern, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Praziquantel is the only drug currently administrated to treat this disease. However, praziquantel-resistant parasites have been identified in endemic areas and can be generated in the laboratory. Therefore, it is essential to find new therapeutics. Antioxidants are appealing drug targets. In order to survive in their hosts, schistosomes are challenged by reactive oxygen species from intrinsic and extrinsic sources. Schistosome antioxidant enzymes have been identified as essential proteins and novel drug targets and inhibition of the antioxidant response can lead to parasite death. Because the organization of the redox network in schistosomes is significantly different from that in humans, new drugs are being developed targeting schistosome antioxidants. In this paper the redox biology of schistosomes is discussed and their potential use as drug targets is reviewed. It is hoped that compounds targeting parasite antioxidant responses will become clinically relevant drugs in the near future.
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Keywords: Schistosoma; antioxidants; drug development; drug targets; glutathione; parasite death; praziquantel; redox biology; thioredoxin; thioredoxin glutathione reductase

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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