Today PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases is thrilled to publish its very first set of what we like to call "sneak-preview" articles — articles that are published before the journal officially launches later this year. These two articles showcase the broad-reaching content that will be featured in PLoS' newest journal.
In the Research Article "Genetic Selection of Low Fertile Onchocerca volvulus by Ivermectin Treatment", Roger Prichard and colleagues studied genetic changes in Onchocerca volvulus (the parasite that causes onchocerciasis, or river blindness) following exposure to ivermectin, the primary treatment for onchocerciasis. This new study shows that long-term treatment selects for the heterozygotic form of beta-tubulin, a gene linked to ivermectin resistance.
Then, Sara Lustigman and James McCarter set Prichard et al.’s article in context in their Expert Commentary, "Ivermectin Resistance in Onchocerca volvulus" — Toward a Genetic Basis". These leading experts say that the new study is "a wake-up call for onchocerciasis control programs to select their treatment regimens carefully and to develop plans for detecting ivermectin resistance and the associated genetic markers."
In Prichard and colleagues' study, the genetic changes in beta-tubulin were seen in parasites obtained from patients exposed to repeated ivermectin treatment when compared with parasites obtained from the same patients before any exposure to ivermectin. The researchers also found that the extent of the genetic changes was dependent on the level of ivermectin treatment exposure. Ivermectin has been used for mass treatment of river blindness for up to 18 years and is currently the only safe drug available for mass treatment of the estimated 37 million people infected with O. volvulus.
These two articles are currently available as PDFs; however, once PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases officially launches, all of its content will feature the interactive online functionality that you've come to expect from its sister journal PLoS ONE. Until then, please post your comments below or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.