Cross-disciplinary approaches for measuring parasitic helminth viability and phenotype

Emily Peak, Karl Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (SciVal)


Parasitic worms (helminths) within the Phyla Nematoda and Platyhelminthes are responsible for some of the most debilitating and chronic infectious diseases of human and animal populations across the globe. As no subunit vaccine for any parasitic helminth is close to being developed, the frontline strategy for intervention is administration of therapeutic, anthelmintic drugs. Worryingly, and unsurprising due to co-evolutionary mechanisms, many of these worms are developing resistance to the limited compound classes currently being used. This unfortunate reality has led to a renaissance in next generation anthelmintic discovery within both academic and industrial sectors. However, a major bottleneck in this process is the lack of quantitative methods for screening large numbers of small molecules for their effects on the whole organism. Development of methodologies that can objectively and rapidly distinguish helminth viability or phenotype would be an invaluable tool in the anthelmintic discovery pipeline. Towards this end, we describe how several basic techniques currently used to assess single cell eukaryote viability have been successfully applied to parasitic helminths. We additionally demonstrate how some of these methodologies have been adopted for high-throughput use and further modified for assessing worm phenotype. Continued development in this area is aimed at increasing the rate by which novel anthelmintics are identified and subsequently translated into everyday, practical applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-662
Number of pages14
JournalAnais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2011


  • helminth
  • schistosome
  • nematode
  • viability
  • phenotype


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