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Molecules 2013, 18(8), 9219-9240; doi:10.3390/molecules18089219

Amazonian Plant Natural Products: Perspectives for Discovery of New Antimalarial Drug Leads

1
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da Amazônia (INPA), Av. André Araújo, 2936, 69067-375 Manaus, AM, Brazil
2
Departamento de Genética, Evolução e Bioagentes, Universidade Estadual de Campinas-UNICAMP, P.O. Box 6109, 13083-862 Campinas, SP, Brazil
3
Laboratório Nacional de Biociências (LNBio) – Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais (CNEPM) - P.O. Box 6192, 13083-970 Campinas, SP, Brazil
4
Programa de Mestrado em Sociedade, Tecnologia e Meio Ambiente. UniEVANGÉLICA-Centro Universitário de Anápolis, 75083-515 Anapólis, GO, Brazil
5
Centro de Malária e Doenças Tropicais, LA/IHMT-Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1349-008 Lisboa, Portugal
6
Fundação de Medicina Tropical Dr. Heitor Vieira Dourado, 69040-000 Manaus, AM, Brazil
7
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Medicina Tropical, Universidade do Estado do Amazonas, 69040-000 Manaus, AM, Brazil
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 July 2013 / Revised: 14 July 2013 / Accepted: 18 July 2013 / Published: 2 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Section Natural Products)
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Abstract

Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax malaria parasites are now resistant, or showing signs of resistance, to most drugs used in therapy. Novel chemical entities that exhibit new mechanisms of antiplasmodial action are needed. New antimalarials that block transmission of Plasmodium spp. from humans to Anopheles mosquito vectors are key to malaria eradication efforts. Although P. vivax causes a considerable number of malaria cases, its importance has for long been neglected. Vivax malaria can cause severe manifestations and death; hence there is a need for P. vivax-directed research. Plants used in traditional medicine, namely Artemisia annua and Cinchona spp. are the sources of the antimalarial natural products artemisinin and quinine, respectively. Based on these compounds, semi-synthetic artemisinin-derivatives and synthetic quinoline antimalarials have been developed and are the most important drugs in the current therapeutic arsenal for combating malaria. In the Amazon region, where P. vivax predominates, there is a local tradition of using plant-derived preparations to treat malaria. Here, we review the current P. falciparum and P. vivax drug-sensitivity assays, focusing on challenges and perspectives of drug discovery for P. vivax, including tests against hypnozoites. We also present the latest findings of our group and others on the antiplasmodial and antimalarial chemical components from Amazonian plants that may be potential drug leads against malaria.
Keywords: herbal remedy; Plasmodium spp.; antimalarials; drug discovery; Amazonian plants herbal remedy; Plasmodium spp.; antimalarials; drug discovery; Amazonian plants
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Pohlit, A.M.; Lima, R.B.S.; Frausin, G.; Silva, L.F.R.; Lopes, S.C.P.; Moraes, C.B.; Cravo, P.; Lacerda, M.V.G.; Siqueira, A.M.; Freitas-Junior, L.H.; Costa, F.T.M. Amazonian Plant Natural Products: Perspectives for Discovery of New Antimalarial Drug Leads. Molecules 2013, 18, 9219-9240.

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