Nanomedicine Against Malaria
Patricia Urban and Xavier Fernandez-Busquets
Affiliation: Nanomalaria Group, Centre Esther Koplowitz, 1st floor, CRESIB, Rossello 149-153, Barcelona E08036, Spain.
Keywords: Dendrimers, liposomes, malaria diagnosis, nanobiosensors, nanoparticles, Plasmodium, polymers, targeted drug
Malaria is arguably one of the main medical concerns worldwide because of the numbers of people affected,
the severity of the disease and the complexity of the life cycle of its causative agent, the protist Plasmodium sp. The clinical,
social and economic burden of malaria has led for the last 100 years to several waves of serious efforts to reach its
control and eventual eradication, without success to this day. With the advent of nanoscience, renewed hopes have appeared
of finally obtaining the long sought-after magic bullet against malaria in the form of a nanovector for the targeted
delivery of antimalarial drugs exclusively to Plasmodium-infected cells. Different types of encapsulating structure, targeting
molecule, and antimalarial compound will be discussed for the assembly of Trojan horse nanocapsules capable of targeting
with complete specificity diseased cells and of delivering inside them their antimalarial cargo with the objective of
eliminating the parasite with a single dose. Nanotechnology can also be applied to the discovery of new antimalarials
through single-molecule manipulation approaches for the identification of novel drugs targeting essential molecular components
of the parasite. Finally, methods for the diagnosis of malaria can benefit from nanotools applied to the design of
microfluidic-based devices for the accurate identification of the parasite’s strain, its precise infective load, and the relative
content of the different stages of its life cycle, whose knowledge is essential for the administration of adequate therapies.
The benefits and drawbacks of these nanosystems will be considered in different possible scenarios, including cost-related
issues that might be hampering the development of nanotechnology-based medicines against malaria with the dubious argument
that they are too expensive to be used in developing areas.
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