There is an urgent need for new antimicrobial agents to combat infections caused by drug-resistant pathogens. Once a compound is shown to be effective in vitro, it is necessary to evaluate its efficacy in an animal infection model. Typically, this is achieved using a mammalian model, but such experiments are costly, time consuming, and require full ethical consideration. Hence, cheaper and ethically more acceptable invertebrate models of infection have been introduced, including the larvae of the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella. Invertebrates have an immune system that is functionally similar to the innate immune system of mammals, and often identical virulence and pathogenicity factors are used by human pathogenic microbes to infect wax moth larvae and mammals. Moreover, the virulence of many human pathogens is comparable in wax moth larvae and mammals. Using key examples from the literature, this chapter highlights the benefits of using the wax moth larva model to provide a rapid, inexpensive, and reliable evaluation of the toxicity and efficacy of new antimicrobial agents in vivo and prior to the use of more expensive mammalian models. This simple insect model can bridge the gap between in vitro studies and mammalian experimentation by screening out compounds with a low likelihood of success, while providing greater justification for further studies in mammalian systems. Thus, broader implementation of the wax moth larva model into anti-infective drug discovery and development programs could reduce the use of mammals during preclinical assessments and the overall cost of drug development.
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