• Open Access

PERSPECTIVE: Evolutionary biology and the avoidance of antimicrobial resistance

Authors

  • Andrew F. Read,

    1.  Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Departments of Biology and Entomology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
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  • Silvie Huijben

    1.  Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Departments of Biology and Entomology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
    2.  School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, UK
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Andrew F. Read, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Departments of Biology and Entomology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16827, USA. Tel.: +1 814 867 2396; fax: +1 814 865 9131; e-mail: a.read@psu.edu

Abstract

Evolutionary biologists have largely left the search for solutions to the drug resistance crisis to biomedical scientists, physicians, veterinarians and public health specialists. We believe this is because the vast majority of professional evolutionary biologists consider the evolutionary science of drug resistance to be conceptually uninteresting. Using malaria as case study, we argue that it is not. We review examples of evolutionary thinking that challenge various fallacies dominating antimalarial therapy, and discuss open problems that need evolutionary insight. These problems are unlikely to be resolved by biomedical scientists ungrounded in evolutionary biology. Involvement by evolutionary biologists in the science of drug resistance requires no intellectual compromises: the problems are as conceptually challenging as they are important.

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