Advantages of helminGuard's in vitro approach
- It replaces mammalian animal experiments and promotes the 3Rs concept.
- It provides convincing results, because compounds are tested on vital worms.
Conventional high-throughput screening, by contrast, studies interactions between single molecules in an artificial context and, thus, delivers many irrelevant results.
- The presence of human blood in the culture mimics the human host environment, thus, providing results relevant for humans, while this cannot be guaranteed by animal experiments.
- It substantially saves time and costs for drug discovery
- It reveals immunomodulatory drug effects via live blood cells as indicators.
- It allows high-throughput screening, i. e. testing compounds at large numbers, and thus, strongly supports drug discovery and drug repurposing.
- It ensures superior standardization and reproducibility over animal experiments: In a given animal only one single compound can be tested at a time. In contrast, with blood of single donors a host-like in vitro environment is created that allows for testing hundreds of compounds, in parallel.
- It provides direct and easy access to the parasite: All parasite stages can be easily accessed and recovered at any time allowing real-time monitoring of the parasite.
- It circumvents false-positive results: Recently, it was reported that application of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor Imatinib negatively affects survival of in vitro cultured adult Schistosoma mansoni. However, this anthelminthic effect could not be confirmed, when this compound was applied to infected animals. The explanation: Imatinib is bound and functionally inactivated by certain blood components, that had not been added to the in vitro culture, highlighting the crucial role of blood components for obtaining relevant in vitro results (Beckmann S et al, 2014).
In contrast, our screening system (containing human blood) did not mistakenly mark Imatinib as an anthelminthic candidate.