There is an urgent need for the identification and validation of new therapeutic targets in protozoan
parasites because currently available drugs are limited in number and usefulness, and no vaccines are available.
The discovery that alpha-difluoromethylornithine, an inhibitor of polyamine biosynthesis, is an efficacious treatment
for African Sleeping Sickness caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei, has validated the
polyamine pathway as a target in protozoan parasites. Polyamines are ubiquitous organic cations that play critical
roles in key cellular processes such as growth, differentiation, and macromolecular biosynthesis. In recent years,
remarkable progress has been made in the characterization of the polyamine pathway in a variety of protozoan
parasites and this review will highlight surprising and unique features that could lead to new therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: Polyamines, parasites, Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi, Leishmania, Plasmodium, therapeutic strategies.
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