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Keywords:

  • antifolates;
  • artemisinins;
  • atovaquone;
  • chloroquine;
  • combination therapy;
  • gene copy number;
  • gene polymorphisms;
  • Plasmodium falciparum

Despite intensive research extending back to the 1930s, when the first synthetic antimalarial drugs made their appearance, the repertoire of clinically licensed formulations remains very limited. Moreover, widespread and increasing resistance to these drugs contributes enormously to the difficulties in controlling malaria, posing considerable intellectual, technical and humanitarian challenges. A detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying resistance to these agents is emerging that should permit new drugs to be rationally developed and older ones to be engineered to regain their efficacy. This review summarizes recent progress in analysing the causes of resistance to the major antimalarial drugs and its spread.