The Menace of Malaria: An Overview
- Pp. 154-213 (60)Satish Agrawal, Hafsa Ahmad, Abhishek Arya, Pankaj Dwivedi and Anil Kumar Dwivedi
Malaria remains one of the most dreadful diseases affecting millions of people across the world. It is an infectious disease spread through the (female anopheles) mosquito caused by the parasitic protozoans belonging to genus Plasmodium. The most lethal species is Plasmodium falciparum which if left untreated, may cause organ failures (severe malaria) or may accumulate in brain (cerebral malaria) causing coma and finally leading to the death. The disease is mostly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Children under the age of 5 years, pregnant women and travellers to the malaria prone area are particularly at higher risk of getting malaria. It is typically diagnosed by microscopic examination of blood using blood film or antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests. The treatment of malaria comprises various synthetic, natural analogues administered orally or parenterally. The choice of therapeutic agents depends on the species of parasite, pattern of resistance and the seriousness of the infection. Emergence and spread of the multidrug resistant strains of the causative organisms has extremely limited the choice of antimalarial chemotherapeutics. Only limited treatment options are currently available due to the resistant species highlighting the need of efficient research for developing newer broad spectrum antimalarial drugs. The discovery of potent vaccine against malaria still remains a major challenge amongst scientific community, with only limited success achieved till now. The choice of the delivery system plays a vital role in determining fate of the drug as it’s not only important for delivering the right drug at the right site, but also it can minimize the untoward effects of drugs. Nano-carriers or nanosystems are useful tools that are particularly gaining distinctive attention in malaria chemotherapy because of their ability to minimize the side effects, improve bioavailability and the selectivity of the drugs by altering the biopharmaceutics and pharmacokinetic property of the drug molecules. Discovery of potent drugs like Arteether (ART) and Bulaquin have been some major breakthroughs in antimalarial research. However; the major challenge in management of malaria in the current scenario is to combat drug resistance and to develop new potent drugs in order to completely irradiate this fatal disease. This chapter is intended to highlight on some basic aspects of malaria, challenges in current chemotherapy, current investigations towards malaria chemotherapy and vaccine, and the use of nanotechnology as a promising strategy for malaria treatment.