Overcoming the challenges of drug discovery for neglected tropical diseases: the A·WOL experience

J Biomol Screen. 2014 Mar;19(3):335-43. doi: 10.1177/1087057113511270. Epub 2013 Nov 15.


Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 17 diseases that typically affect poor people in tropical countries. Each has been neglected for decades in terms of funding, research, and policy, but the recent grouping of them into one unit, which can be targeted using integrated control measures, together with increased advocacy has helped to place them on the global health agenda. The World Health Organization has set ambitious goals to control or eliminate 10 NTDs by 2020 and launched a roadmap in January 2012 to guide this global plan. The result of the launch meeting, which brought together representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, donors, and politicians, was the London Declaration: a series of commitments to provide more drugs, research, and funds to achieve the 2020 goals. Drug discovery and development for these diseases are extremely challenging, and this article highlights these challenges in the context of the London Declaration, before focusing on an example of a drug discovery and development program for the NTDs onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis (the anti-Wolbachia consortium, A·WOL).

Keywords: Wolbachia; lymphatic filariasis; neglected tropical diseases; onchocerciasis; review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Discovery*
  • Elephantiasis, Filarial / diagnosis
  • Elephantiasis, Filarial / drug therapy
  • Elephantiasis, Filarial / prevention & control
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Neglected Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neglected Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neglected Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Onchocerciasis / diagnosis
  • Onchocerciasis / drug therapy
  • Onchocerciasis / prevention & control
  • Tropical Medicine*
  • Wolbachia / drug effects
  • World Health Organization