Malarial kinases: novel targets for in silico approaches to drug discovery

Methods Mol Biol. 2013;993:205-29. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-342-8_14.


Malaria, the disease caused by infection with protozoan parasites from the genus Plasmodium, claims the lives of nearly 1 million people annually. Developing nations, particularly in the African Region, bear the brunt of this malaria burden. Alarmingly, the most dangerous etiologic agent of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, is becoming increasingly resistant to current first-line antimalarials. In light of the widespread devastation caused by malaria, the emergence of drug-resistant P. falciparum strains, and the projected decrease in funding for malaria eradication that may occur over the next decade, the identification of promising new targets for antimalarial drug design is imperative. P. falciparum kinases have been proposed as ideal drug targets for antimalarial drug design because they mediate critical cellular processes within the parasite and are, in many cases, structurally and mechanistically divergent when compared with kinases from humans. Identifying a molecule capable of inhibiting the activity of a target enzyme is generally an arduous and expensive process that can be greatly aided by utilizing in silico drug design techniques. Such methods have been extensively applied to human kinases, but as yet have not been fully exploited for the exploration and characterization of antimalarial kinase targets. This review focuses on in silico methods that have been used for the evaluation of potential antimalarials and the Plasmodium kinases that could be explored using these techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Plasmodium / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium / enzymology*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*


  • Antimalarials
  • Protein Kinases