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Antibiotic Found Effective Against Lymphatic Filariasis

Doxycycline targets the bacterial endosymbiont wolbachia

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The antibiotic doxycycline is an effective treatment against the lymphatic filarial parasite Mansonella perstans, according to a study in the Oct. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Noting that M. perstans was recently found to harbor the bacterial endosymbiont wolbachia, Yaya I. Coulibaly, M.D., from the University of Bamako in Mali, and colleagues randomly assigned 216 individuals infected with M. perstans from four villages in Mali to doxycycline daily or no treatment for six weeks. At six months, individuals who were co-infected with the filarial parasite Wuchereria bancrofti were randomly assigned to treatment with a single dose of albendazole and ivermectin or no treatment.

At 12 months, the researchers found that nearly all doxycycline-treated patients had no detectable M. perstans microfilariae in the blood (97 versus 16 percent; relative risk, 6.18). At 36 months, 75 percent of patients who had received doxycycline had no detectable M. perstans microfilariae. Vomiting was more common in patients treated with doxycycline (17 versus 4 percent).

"These results are consistent with previous findings that M. perstans harbors the intracellular endosymbiont, wolbachia, and suggest that doxycycline is an effective therapy for M. perstans infection," Coulibaly and colleagues conclude.

One author reported an equity interest in Johnson & Johnson.

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