Wuchereria bancrofti, a parasitic filarial nematode is a major cause of global morbidity. These parasites are responsible for lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and are transmitted by mosquitoes. Intracellular alphaproteobacteria, Wolbachia, that were first observed almost 40 years ago reside within these filarial parasites. These obligate endosymbionts has been recognized as a target for anti-filarial nematode chemotherapy as evidenced by the loss of worm fertility and viability upon antibiotic treatment in an extensive series of human trials. While current treatments with doxycycline and rifampicin are not practical for widespread use due to the length of required treatments and contraindications, anti-Wolbachia targeting nevertheless appears a promising alternative for filariasis control in situations where current programmatic strategies fail or are unable to be delivered and it provides a superior efficacy for individual therapy. The mechanisms that underlie the symbiotic relationship between Wolbachia and its nematode hosts remain elusive. Comparative genomics, bioinformatics and experimental analyses have identified a number of potential interactions, which may be drug targets. There is need to find additional candidate targets, as well as new approaches for understanding the nature of the host-symbiont relationship.
Keywords: Symbiosis, Wolbachia, Filaria, Drug target, Liposomes.