Malaria is a major global threat, that results in more than 2 million deaths each year. The treatment of malaria is becoming extremely difficult due to the emergence of drug-resistant parasites, the absence of an effective vaccine, and the spread of insecticide-resistant vectors. Thus, malarial therapy needs new chemotherapeutic approaches leading to the search for new drug targets. Here, we discuss different approaches to identifying novel antimalarial drug targets. We have also given due attention to the existing validated targets with a view to develop novel, rationally designed lead molecules. Some of the important parasite proteins are claimed to be the targets; however, further in vitro or in vivo structure-function studies of such proteins are crucial to validate these proteins as suitable targets. The interactome analysis among apicoplast, mitochondrion and genomic DNA will also be useful in identifying vital pathways or proteins regulating critical pathways for parasite growth and survival, and could be attractive targets. Molecules responsible for parasite invasion to host erythrocytes and ion channels of infected erythrocytes, essential for intra-erythrocyte survival and stage progression of parasites are also becoming attractive targets. This review will discuss and highlight the current understanding regarding the potential antimalarial drug targets, which could be utilized to develop novel antimalarials. © 2009 Expert Reviews Ltd.
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