Eliminating malaria has been one of the major medical challenges in the world for more than a century. Although people have been suffering from this infectious disease for thousands of years, the first significant scientific advances on malaria refer to the end of the 19th century. The discovery of the malaria parasites, which belong to the Plasmodium group and enter the human body by a female mosquito bite, was considered as a breakthrough and distinguished with two Nobel Prizes in Medicine – in 1902 and 1907. These findings had provided a good starting point for antimalarial research; however, further progress in treating malaria was not stable and smooth. Every small successful step towards malaria eradication requires tremendous efforts of the global health community and is a great victory. The fight continues: the discovery of artemisinin, an antimalarial drug that averted millions of deaths, brought another Nobel Prize in Medicine to a Chinese chemist Tu Youyou in 2015. The elusive goal to combat malaria is as challenging and topical in the 21st century as it was in the 19th.
In spite of huge efforts thrown into antimalarial drug discovery, few medications are available to prevent or treat the disease; and still, there is no vaccine. Given all present-day capacities of science and technology, this deadlock may bring perplexity: what is the reason for such a failure? The answer is – the diversity and adaptability of malaria parasite species that infect humans. There exist five types of malarial Plasmodium, and they respond differently to the treatment. Furthermore, parasites develop the resistivity to antimalarial drugs. For instance, chloroquine, which is one of the first known antimalarial drugs along with quinine, is almost out of use now, as the chloroquine-resistant malaria strains have spread to most malaria-affected areas. Resistance to quinine has also occurred in certain regions; however, quinine therapy in combination with other medications is still used when artemisinin is not available. Artemisinin treatment shows signs of developing resistance, too. Currently, the optimal therapy employs derivatives of artemisinin combined with complementary drugs, though such protocol is quite expensive and moderately effective. The protracted confrontation with malaria brought about the continuous need for innovative therapeutic strategies and novel medications.
Every year on April 25th the World Health Organization highlights the importance and urgency of the global malaria problem by marking the World Malaria Day. It impels political, corporate, and social organizations to unite their efforts against malaria, to bring awareness to the disease, and to maintain malaria-related technological and research advances. The issue is extremely pressing as the progress in reducing malaria cases and the death rate has drastically decelerated in recent years: the WHO reports more than 200 million cases with almost half a million deaths in 2018. These numbers do not show any improvement compared to the previous year and remain at this level since 2014. The critical need for inventive ways to detect, prevent and cure malaria, with emphasis on drug discovery, is beyond any doubt.
To join the worldwide efforts to curb malaria and to support all domains of antimalarial research, Life Chemicals provides a selection of malaria-relevant compounds in its focused Antimalarial Screening Libraries (Plasmodium Focused Library, Malaria Box Focused Library) as well as the related Antiprotozoal Library and Cysteine Protease Focused Library
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