The ClpP peptidase of Wolbachia endobacteria is a novel target for drug development against filarial infections.
Filarial infections causing lymphatic filariasis or onchocerciasis (river blindness) can be treated with antibiotics (e.g. doxycycline) targeting the essential endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria. The depletion of Wolbachia inhibits worm development and causes worm death. Available antibiotics have restrictions for use in children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Therefore, alternative antibiotics are needed that can be given to all members of the population and that are active with a shorter therapy time. Antibiotics of the acyldepsipeptide class have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria by overactivating the peptidase ClpP. The novel mode of action of this class of antibiotics could lead to faster killing of intracellular bacteria.