Antimalarial drug discovery: progress and approaches
Recent antimalarial drug discovery has been a race to produce new medicines that overcome emerging drug resistance, whilst considering safety and improving dosing convenience. Discovery efforts have yielded a variety of new molecules, many with novel modes of action, and the most advanced are in late-stage clinical development. These discoveries have led to a deeper understanding of how antimalarial drugs act, the identification of a new generation of drug targets, and multiple structure-based chemistry initiatives. The limited pool of funding means it is vital to prioritize new drug candidates. They should exhibit high potency, a low propensity for resistance, a pharmacokinetic profile that favours infrequent dosing, low cost, preclinical results that demonstrate safety and tolerability in women and infants, and preferably the ability to block Plasmodium transmission to Anopheles mosquito vectors. In this Review, we describe the approaches that have been successful, progress in preclinical and clinical development, and existing challenges. We illustrate how antimalarial drug discovery can serve as a model for drug discovery in diseases of poverty.
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