Paradigm shifts in malaria parasite biochemistry and anti-malarial chemotherapy



A fatty acid synthesis (FAS) pathway was recently discovered and established in the obligate human parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Its inhibition by triclosan (2,4,4′-trichloro-2′-hydroxydiphenyl ether) leads to its classification as a type II FAS. Humans, the vertebrate host for the malarial parasite utilize type I FAS, which is not inhibited by triclosan. This discovery thus paves the way for novel approaches to the treatment of malaria. In direct contrast to the delayed-death phenotype associated with poisoning of the apicoplast using certain other drugs, the rapid and striking action of triclosan suggests the possibility of developing new drug(s) for the treatment of malaria. BioEssays 24:192–196, 2002. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.