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Curr Med Chem. 2019 Jun 28. doi: 10.2174/0929867326666190628163633. [Epub ahead of print]

Old Antiprotozoal Drugs: Are They Still Viable Options for Parasitic Diseases or New Options for Other Diseases?

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Instituto de Química, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cd. Universitaria, Circuito Exterior, Coyoacán, 04510, Ciudad de Mexico. Mexico.
Laboratorio de Biotecnología Farmacéutica, Centro de Biotecnología Genómica, Instituto Politecnico Nacional, 88710, Reynosa. Mexico.
Unidad Académica Multidisciplinaria Reynosa-Rodhe, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, 88710, Reynosa. Mexico.


Parasitic diseases caused by helminths (ascariasis, hookworm, trichinosis, and schistosomiasis) and protozoa (Chagas, leishmaniasis, and amebiasis) are considered serious public health problems in developing countries. Additionally, there is a limited arsenal of anti-parasitic drugs in the current pipeline and growing drug resistance. Therefore, there is a clear need for the discovery and development of new compounds that can compete and replace these drugs that have been controlling parasitic infections over the last decades. However, this approach is highly resource-intensive, expensive and time-consuming. Accordingly, a drug repositioning strategy of existing drugs or drug-like molecules with known pharmacokinetics and safety profiles is alternatively being used as a fast approach for the identification of new treatments. The artemisinins, mefloquine, tribendimidine, oxantel pamoate and doxycycline for the treatment of helminths, and posaconazole and hydroxymethylnitrofurazone for the treatment of protozoa are promising candidates. Therefore, traditional antiprotozoal drugs, which were developed in some cases decades ago, are a valid solution. Herein, we review the current status of traditional anti-helminthic and anti-protozoal drugs in terms of drug targets, mode of action, doses, adverse effects, and parasite resistance to define their suitability for repurposing strategies. Current antiparasitic drugs are not only still viable for the treatment of helminth and protozoa infections but are also important candidates for new pharmacological treatments.


Parasitic diseases; design; drugs; helminths; infections; protozoa; treatments

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