High-content approaches to anthelmintic drug screening

Trends Parasitol. 2021 Sep;37(9):780-789. doi: 10.1016/j.pt.2021.05.004. Epub 2021 Jun 3.


Most anthelmintics were discovered through in vivo screens using animal models of infection. Developing in vitro assays for parasitic worms presents several challenges. The lack of in vitro life cycle culture protocols requires harvesting worms from vertebrate hosts or vectors, limiting assay throughput. Once worms are removed from the host environment, established anthelmintics often show no obvious phenotype - raising concerns about the predictive value of many in vitro assays. However, with recent progress in understanding how anthelmintics subvert host-parasite interactions, and breakthroughs in high-content imaging and machine learning, in vitro assays have the potential to discern subtle cryptic parasite phenotypes. These may prove better endpoints than conventional in vitro viability assays.

Keywords: anthelmintic; drug screening; high-content imaging; nematode; platyhelminth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthelmintics* / pharmacology
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical*
  • Helminthiasis / drug therapy
  • Helminths / drug effects
  • Host-Parasite Interactions


  • Anthelmintics