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The antimalarial screening landscape—looking beyond the asexual blood stage

  • Yahiya, Sabrina1
  • Rueda-Zubiaurre, Ainoa2
  • Delves, Michael J3
  • Fuchter, Matthew J2
  • Baum, Jake1
  • 1 Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2AZ, UK
  • 2 Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London, Molecular Sciences Research Hub, White City Campus, Wood Lane, London W12 OBZ, UK
  • 3 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK
Published Article
Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2019.01.029
PMID: 30875617
PMCID: PMC6591700
PubMed Central


In recent years, the research agenda to tackle global morbidity and mortality from malaria disease has shifted towards innovation, in the hope that efforts at the frontiers of scientific research may re-invigorate gains made towards eradication. Discovery of new antimalarial drugs with novel chemotypes or modes of action lie at the heart of these efforts. There is a particular interest in drug candidates that target stages of the malaria parasite lifecycle beyond the symptomatic asexual blood stages. This is especially important given the spectre of emerging drug resistance to all current frontline antimalarials. One approach gaining increased interest is the potential of designing novel drugs that target parasite passage from infected individual to feeding mosquito and back again. Action of such therapeutics is geared much more at the population level rather than just concerned with the infected individual. The search for novel drugs active against these stages has been helped by improvements to in vitro culture of transmission and pre-erythrocytic parasite lifecycle stages, robotic automation and high content imaging, methodologies that permit the high-throughput screening (HTS) of compound libraries for drug discovery. Here, we review recent advances in the antimalarial screening landscape, focussed on transmission blocking as a key aim for drug-treatment campaigns of the future.

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