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Towards Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors as New Antimalarial Drugs

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Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are important enzymes that effect post-translational modifications of proteins by altering the acetylation state of lysine residues. HDACs control epigenetic changes that trigger cell transformation and proliferation of transformed cells associated with many diseases. These enzymes are validated drug targets for some types of cancer and are promising therapeutic targets for a range of other diseases, including malaria. Annually, there are ∼500 million clinical cases of malaria and ∼0.8-1.2 million deaths. There is no licensed vaccine for preventing malaria, and parasites that cause malaria are becoming resistant to current drugs, necessitating the search for new therapies. HDAC inhibitors are emerging as a promising new class of antimalarial drugs with potent and selective action against Plasmodium parasites in vitro. Recent studies on the effects of HDAC inhibitors on the growth and development of P. falciparum have provided important new information on transcriptional regulation in malaria parasites and have validated the potential of this class of inhibitors for malaria therapy. To realise effective HDAC inhibitors for clinical trials, next generation inhibitors must not inhibit other human HDACs or proteins required for normal human physiology, be highly selective in killing parasites in vivo without killing normal host cells, and have improved bioavailability and pharmacokinetic profiles. This review summarizes current knowledge about malaria parasite HDACs and HDAC inhibitors with antimalarial properties, and provides insights for their development into new drugs for treatment of malaria.
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Keywords: HDAC inhibitor; Histone deacetylase; Plasmodium falciparum; antimalarial drugs; bioavailability; epigenetic changes; malaria; pharmacokinetic profiles; post-translational modifications; vaccine

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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