Current progress in antimalarial pharmacotherapy and multi-target drug discovery

Eur J Med Chem. 2020 Feb 15:188:111983. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2019.111983. Epub 2019 Dec 19.


Discovery and development of antimalarial drugs have long been dominated by single-target therapy. Continuous effort has been made to explore and identify different targets in malaria parasite crucial for the malaria treatment. The single-target drug therapy was initially successful, but it was later supplanted by combination therapy with multiple drugs to overcome drug resistance. Emergence of resistant strains even against the combination therapy has warranted a review of current antimalarial pharmacotherapy. This has led to the development of the new concept of covalent biotherapy, in which two or more pharmacophores are chemically bound to produce hybrid antimalarial drugs with multi-target functionalities. Herein, the review initially details the current pharmacotherapy for malaria as well as the conventional and novel targets of importance identified in the malaria parasite. Then, the rationale of multi-targeted therapy for malaria, approaches taken to develop the multi-target antimalarial hybrids, and the examples of hybrid molecules are comprehensively enumerated and discussed.

Keywords: Antimalarial pharmacotherapy; Covalent biotherapy; Malaria; Multi-target hybrids; Resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / chemistry
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Artemisinins / chemistry
  • Artemisinins / pharmacology*
  • Drug Discovery*
  • Drug Resistance / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Malaria / drug therapy*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Paclitaxel / chemistry
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology*
  • Quinolines / chemistry
  • Quinolines / pharmacology*


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Quinolines
  • artemisinin
  • quinoline
  • Paclitaxel