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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Dec;7(12):864-74. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2239. Epub 2009 Nov 2.

Artemisinin-based combination therapies: a vital tool in efforts to eliminate malaria.

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Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Hammer Health Sciences Center, Room 1502, 701 West 168th Street, New York 10032, New York, USA.


Plasmodium falciparum resistance to chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine has led to the recent adoption of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) as the first line of treatment against malaria. ACTs comprise semisynthetic artemisinin derivatives paired with distinct chemical classes of longer acting drugs. These artemisinins are exceptionally potent against the pathogenic asexual blood stages of Plasmodium parasites and also act on the transmissible sexual stages. These combinations increase the rates of clinical and parasitological cures and decrease the selection pressure for the emergence of antimalarial resistance. This Review article discusses our current knowledge about the mode of action of ACTs, their pharmacological properties and the proposed mechanisms of drug resistance.

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