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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Print version ISSN 0074-0276
AGUIAR, Anna Caroline C et al. New approaches in antimalarial drug discovery and development: a review. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz [online]. 2012, vol.107, n.7, pp. 831-845. ISSN 0074-0276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0074-02762012000700001.
Malaria remains a major world health problem following the emergence and spread of Plasmodium falciparum that is resistant to the majority of antimalarial drugs. This problem has since been aggravated by a decreased sensitivity of Plasmodium vivax to chloroquine. This review discusses strategies for evaluating the antimalarial activity of new compounds in vitro and in animal models ranging from conventional tests to the latest high-throughput screening technologies. Antimalarial discovery approaches include the following: the discovery of antimalarials from natural sources, chemical modifications of existing antimalarials, the development of hybrid compounds, testing of commercially available drugs that have been approved for human use for other diseases and molecular modelling using virtual screening technology and docking. Using these approaches, thousands of new drugs with known molecular specificity and active against P. falciparum have been selected. The inhibition of haemozoin formation in vitro, an indirect test that does not require P. falciparum cultures, has been described and this test is believed to improve antimalarial drug discovery. Clinical trials conducted with new funds from international agencies and the participation of several industries committed to the eradication of malaria should accelerate the discovery of drugs that are as effective as artemisinin derivatives, thus providing new hope for the control of malaria.
Keywords : human malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; antimalarials; drug screening; chloroquine; artemisinin; drug resistance.