Development of cysteine protease inhibitors as chemotherapy for parasitic diseases: insights on safety, target validation, and mechanism of action

Int J Parasitol. 1999 Jun;29(6):833-7. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(99)00044-2.


Cysteine proteases have been identified as promising targets for the development of antiparasitic chemotherapy. An attractive aspect of these enzymes is their widespread importance in both protozoan and helminth parasites of domestic animals and humans. Concerns about the ability to selectively inhibit parasite proteases without affecting host homologues have been addressed in recent studies of Trypanosoma cruzi and Plasmodium falciparum. Significant data on half-life, metabolism, pharmacokinetics and safety have been accumulated. Differential uptake of proteases by parasitic organisms versus host cells, and relatively less redundancy in parasite protease gene families, may be two factors which contribute to the successful treatment of animal models of infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiparasitic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiparasitic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiparasitic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Eukaryota / drug effects
  • Helminthiasis / drug therapy
  • Helminths / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Parasitic Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Protozoan Infections / drug therapy*
  • Schistosomicides / adverse effects
  • Schistosomicides / pharmacology
  • Schistosomicides / therapeutic use


  • Antiparasitic Agents
  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors
  • Schistosomicides