Malaria is one of the most deadly parasitic infectious diseases and identifying novel drug targets is mandatory for the development of new drugs. To find drug targets, metabolic and signaling networks have been constructed. These networks have been investigated by graph theoretical methods. Furthermore, mechanistic models have been set up based on stoichiometric equations. At equilibrium, production and consumption of internal metabolites need to be balanced leading to a large set of flux equations, and this can be used for metabolic flux simulations to identify drug targets. Analysis of flux variability and knockout simulations were applied to detect potential drug targets whose absence reduces the predicted biomass production and hence viability of the parasite in the host cell. Furthermore, not only the parasite was studied, but also the interaction between the host and the parasite, and, based on experimental expression data, stage-specific metabolic models of the parasite were developed, particularly during the red-blood cell stage. In this chapter, these various network-based approaches for drug target prediction will be explained and summarized.
Part of the book: Current Topics in Malaria