Exploiting Malaria Drug Resistance to Our Advantage

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Science  05 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6043, pp. 705-706
DOI: 10.1126/science.1210875

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In the world of developing anti-infective drugs, resistance comes with the territory. It is literally in the DNA (or RNA) of the viruses and pathogens targeted for treatment. Because resistance has far-reaching consequences for human health, researchers have studied the resistance of infectious agents such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 with unprecedented intensity and documented in excruciating detail the genetic determinants of resistance to FDA-approved drugs (1). However, understanding drug resistance in a complex eukaryotic parasite, such as the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria, is a very different challenge. On page 724 of this issue, Yuan et al. (2) confront the issue head-on. Using high-throughput chemical and gene analysis methods, they not only identify potential new antimalarial drugs that could be used in combination to suppress the development of drug resistance but also characterize a common set of genetic loci and genes affected by these molecules.