Ray M. Kaplan Interview

April 2008

Ray M. Kaplan talks with ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about the Emerging Research Front in the field of Microbiology.

Article: Drug resistance in nematodes of veterinary importance: a status report
Authors: Kaplan, RM
Addresses: TRENDS PARASITOL, 20 (10): 477-481 OCT 2004
Univ Georgia, Coll Vet Med, Dept Infect Dis, Athens, GA 30602 USA.
Univ Georgia, Coll Vet Med, Dept Infect Dis, Athens, GA 30602 USA.


SW: Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

Drug resistance in nematode parasites of grazing livestock is one of the most significant issues facing animal production systems across much of the world. The problem is most severe in sheep and goats, where extremely high prevalences of multidrug resistance (MDR) threaten the viability of small-ruminant industries. Consequently, a great deal of research is being done to address this problem. My paper provides a concise and in-depth review of this subject; therefore, it is readily applicable as a citation in many research studies addressing drug resistance in parasites.

SW: Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

This paper synthesizes knowledge regarding the biology and epidemiology of drug resistance in nematode parasites and offers perspectives for addressing these problems, both now and in the future.

SW: How did you become involved in this research and were any particular problems encountered along the way?

Prior to studying drug resistance in nematode parasites of livestock, I worked at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, where I did research on malaria parasites. Drug resistance is a very severe problem in malaria, and my work in this area prompted me to continue this line of research when I came to University of Georgia, where I was hired as a livestock parasitologist.

The most significant problems encountered were the lack of research reagents, and difficulty in acquiring research funding support for studying parasites of livestock. Additionally, nematode parasites are extremely complex organisms, and when studying molecular mechanisms of resistance and populating genetics, everything turns out to be much more complex than it would appear on the surface.

SW: Where do you see your research leading in the future?

My research program is currently heading in several different directions. We continue to investigate the molecular basis of drug resistance in nematodes, we are developing and optimizing new in vitro methods for diagnosing resistance, we are developing statistical models and performing data simulations in order to improve our ability to diagnose resistance in the field, we are testing and optimizing novel non-chemical approaches to parasite control, and we are expanding our work into the effects of nematode parasites of humans.

SW: Do you foresee any social or political implications for your research?

The past decade has seen a resurgence of interest in the implementation of chemotherapy-based control programs to reduce the morbidity associated with helminth infections in humans. These programs, targeting lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and intestinal helminths, all share a strategy based on mass drug administration (MDA).

This strategy carries with it a severe risk for the emergence of drug resistance, and there are increasing reports of drug inefficacy or sub-optimal responses to treatment in parasitic helminths of humans, which suggest that drug resistance is emerging. It is hoped that the lessons and knowledge gained over the past 20+ years in addressing the problem of drug resistance in parasites of veterinary importance can now be applied to human medicine in order to prevent the same fate from occurring.

Ray M. Kaplan, D.V.M., Ph.D., DipEVPC
Associate Professor
Department of Infectious Diseases
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia, USA

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