Cell based assays for anti-Plasmodium activity evaluation

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    Malaria remains one of the most common and deadly infectious diseases worldwide. The severity of this global public health challenge is reflected by the approximately 198 million people, who were reportedly infected in 2013 and by the more than 584,000 related deaths in that same year. The rising emergence of drug resistance towards the once effective artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) has become a serious concern and warrants more robust drug development strategies, with the objective of eradicating malaria infections. The intricate biology and life cycle of Plasmodium parasites complicate the understanding of the disease in such a way that would enhance the development of more effective chemotherapies that would achieve radical clinical cure and that would prevent disease relapse. Phenotypic cell based assays have for long been a valuable approach and involve the screening and analysis of diverse compounds with regards to their activities towards whole Plasmodium parasites in vitro. To achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of malaria eradication by 2020, new generation drugs that are active against all parasite stages (erythrocytic (blood), exo-erythrocytic (liver stages and gametocytes)) are needed. Significant advances are being made in assay development to overcome some of the practical challenges of assessing drug efficacy, particularly in the liver and transmission stage Plasmodium models. This review discusses primary screening models and the fundamental progress being made in whole cell based efficacy screens of anti-malarial activity. Ongoing challenges and some opportunities for improvements in assay development that would assist in the discovery of effective, safe and affordable drugs for malaria treatments are also discussed