Artemisinin-based combination therapies: a vital tool in efforts to eliminate malaria

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Dec;7(12):864-74. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2239. Epub 2009 Nov 2.


Plasmodium falciparum resistance to chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine has led to the recent adoption of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) as the first line of treatment against malaria. ACTs comprise semisynthetic artemisinin derivatives paired with distinct chemical classes of longer acting drugs. These artemisinins are exceptionally potent against the pathogenic asexual blood stages of Plasmodium parasites and also act on the transmissible sexual stages. These combinations increase the rates of clinical and parasitological cures and decrease the selection pressure for the emergence of antimalarial resistance. This Review article discusses our current knowledge about the mode of action of ACTs, their pharmacological properties and the proposed mechanisms of drug resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use*
  • Artemisinins / therapeutic use
  • Chloroquine / therapeutic use
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Synergism*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Malaria / drug therapy*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy
  • Parasitic Sensitivity Tests
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects*
  • Population Density
  • Pyrimethamine / therapeutic use
  • Sulfadoxine / therapeutic use
  • Travel
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Drug Combinations
  • fanasil, pyrimethamine drug combination
  • Sulfadoxine
  • Chloroquine
  • Pyrimethamine