Flatworm, nematode and arthropod parasites have proven their ability to develop resistance to currently available chemotherapeutics. The heavy reliance on chemotherapy and the ability of target species to develop resistance has prompted the search for novel drug targets. In view of its importance to parasite/pest survival, the neuromusculature of parasitic helminths and pest arthropod species remains an attractive target for the discovery Of novel endectocide targets. Exploitation of the neuropeptidergic system in helminths and arthropods has been hampered by a limited Understanding of the functional roles of individual peptides and the structure of endogenous targets, such as receptors. Basic research into these systems has the potential to facilitate target characterization and its offshoots (screen development and drug identification). Of particular interest to parasitologists is the fact that selected neuropeptide families are common to metazoan pest species (nematodes, platyhelminths and arthropods) and fulfil specific roles in the modulation of muscle function in each of the three phyla. This article reviews the inter-phyla activity of two peptide families, the FMRFamide-like peptides and allatostatins, on motor function in helminths and arthropods and discusses the potential of neuropeptide signalling as a target system that could uncover novel endectocidal agents.
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