R13 Conference: 'Anthelmintics: Laboratory Research, from discovery of new drugs to modes of action and resistance to existing ones'. Parasitic helminths, which include roundworms (nematodes), flatworms (trematodes) and tapeworms (cestodes), cause many of the most prevalent Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and many serious infections of animals. The nematodes include the soil-transmitted helminths (STH), which comprise Ascaris lumbricoides, the hookworms and Trichuris trichiura, which together are estimated to infect about one-third of the world's population, and the filarial nematodes which cause lymphatic filariasis and river blindness, diseases which threaten nearly 200 million people. The trematodes include the schistosomes, which infect 300 million people, and the food-borne trematodes, a group of parasites that are one of the leading causes of cancer in S.E. Asia. Infections of animals with related cause major production losses to livestock farmers and seriously impact the health of companion animals, such as dogs and horses. In all cases, prophylaxis, treatment and control of these infections are based largely on anthelmintic drugs, and the major efforts to reduce and eliminate some of the human parasites are entirely dependent on mass drug administration programs. Lymphatic filariasis has been targeted for global elimination by 2020 and regional elimination of schistosomiasis and river blindness is planned for 2015 or 2020, depending on the region. It is widely accepted that new anthelmintic drugs are required for both human and animal use, especially if these ambitious targets are to be met. Most of the drugs currently used in human medicine were originally developed for veterinary use, and their widespread application in animal health has led to serious problems of drug resistance;the appearance of widespread anthelmintic resistance in human parasites could be disastrous for international efforts to combat NTDs. The history of anthelmintic drug discovery and use clearly shows the need for dialogue between medical and veterinary parasitologists in order to ensure that elimination and control of these diseases proceeds as well as possible. Our conference is planned to take place in San Francisco in February 2014, at the Fort Mason Conference Center. San Francisco is home to several leading groups in anthelmintic drug discovery and was chosen because of its excellent national and international air connections. The meeting will have open registration for national and international attendees, and we estimate that about 100 will attend. We will consider the meeting a success if it results in the formation of new international collaborations and increased links and co-operation between industrial and academic researchers. We intend to produce 5-10 authoritative review articles in an Open Access scientific journal following the meeting.
Parasitic worms infect hundreds of millions of people world-wide, causing debilitating long-term illnesses and severely restricting the human and economic development of the communities where they occur. The global community has embarked on an ambitious program to control and eliminate many of these parasites;this program is wholly dependent on a few effective anti-parasitic drugs. There is wide agreement that new drugs are required if we are to meet the targets set by the World Health Organization and others for disease elimination. Intensive use of the same drugs in veterinary medicine has led to widespread resistance and there is a concern that the same thing could happen in human parasites. This meeting will be open to all, and aims to bring together leading scientists in drug discovery, drug resistance, and veterinary and human medicine to discuss the current state of the science, the best options for discovering and delivering new drugs and for maintaining the effectiveness of existing ones.