Gene Stowe | January 17, 2017
A collaborative modeling study among three research groups, including Edwin Michael’s laboratory in the Department of Biological Sciences, reveals that a triple-drug regimen could accelerate the elimination of lymphatic filariasis, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease also known as elephantiasis. The study, which shows that the regimen requires far fewer applications than current two-drug combinations, is also significant because it provides a unified scientific consensus on the subject for policymakers who sometimes face a confusing array of separate claims. An article on the work, “Effectiveness of a triple-drug regimen for global elimination of lymphatic filariasis: a modelling study,” was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases in December. Authors, in addition to Michael, are Morgan E. Smith and Brajendra K. Singh of Notre Dame; Michael A Irvine and T. Deirdre Hollingsworth of the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom; Wilma A Stolk, of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Swaminathan Subramanian of the Vector Control Research Centre in Puducherry, India; and Gary J. Weil of Washington University in St. Louis.
More than 1 billion people worldwide are at risk of contracting lymphatic filariasis, which can lead to grotesque swellings in the body and impede the victim’s social and economic activity. Few countries are on track to meet the World Health Organization’s longstanding goal of eliminating the disease by 2020, although mass drug administration (MDA) of the current two-drug regimens has reached 100 percent of the population in 22 nations. Trials of the three-drug regiment, funded by the Gates Foundation, have found that it is safe and highly effective. The foundation funded the modeling initiative in an effort to provide clear choices for policymakers regarding how best to use these drug regimens to break disease transmission in populations.