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Genetically Validated Drug Targets in Leishmania: Current Knowledge and Future Prospects

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posted on 2018-01-31, 00:00 authored by Nathaniel G. Jones, Carolina M. C. Catta-Preta, Ana Paula C. A. Lima, Jeremy C. Mottram
There has been a very limited number of high-throughput screening campaigns carried out with Leishmania drug targets. In part, this is due to the small number of suitable target genes that have been shown by genetic or chemical methods to be essential for the parasite. In this perspective, we discuss the state of genetic target validation in the field of Leishmania research and review the 200 Leishmania genes and 36 Trypanosoma cruzi genes for which gene deletion attempts have been made since the first published case in 1990. We define a quality score for the different genetic deletion techniques that can be used to identify potential drug targets. We also discuss how the advances in genome-scale gene disruption techniques have been used to assist target-based and phenotypic-based drug development in other parasitic protozoa and why Leishmania has lacked a similar approach so far. The prospects for this scale of work are considered in the context of the application of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing as a useful tool in Leishmania.