One of the key goals in the design of new anti-cancer therapeutics is to kill the cancer cells while limiting damage to the healthy cells of the body. In pursuit of this goal, anti-cancer antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are increasingly being developed. These immunotherapeutics concentrate the drug specifically inside the cancer cell by combining an antibody that targets the cancer cell surface with a cytotoxic drug.
In parallel, one of the goals in the design of novel therapeutics against protozoan parasites is to destroy the invading cells without causing damage to the host cells. It is logical, therefore, that ADCs could also provide a new class of therapeutic agents against protozoan pathogens. Further, there is clear scope for piggy-back drug development alongside anti-cancer ADCs by varying only cell-specificity.
I will discuss the use of the African trypanosome as a proof-of- principle model for the use of anti-cancer ADCs against parasites.