Plasmodium falciparum, the most devastating human malaria parasite, confers higher morbidity and mortality. Although efforts have been made to develop an effective malaria vaccine, stage- and species-specific short-lived immunity crippled these efforts. Hence, antimalarial drug treatment becomes a mainstay for the treatment of malaria infection in the wake of the unavailability of an effective vaccine. Further, there has been a wide array of antimalarial drugs effective against various developmental stages of P. falciparum due to their different structures, modes of action, and pharmacodynamics as well as pharmacokinetics. The development of resistance against almost all frontline drugs by P. falciparum indicates the need for combination therapy (artemisinin-based combination therapy; ACT) to treat patients with P. falciparum. A higher pool of parasitemia under discontinuous in vivo artemisinin drug pressure in a developed humanized mouse allows the selection of artesunate resistant (ART-R) P. falciparum. Intravenously administered artesunate, using either single flash doses or a 2-day regimen, to the P. falciparum-infected human blood chimeric NOD/SCID.IL-2Rγ−/− immunocompromised (NSG) mice, with progressive dose increments upon parasite recovery, was the strategy deployed to select resistant parasites. Parasite susceptibility to artemisinins and other antimalarial compounds was characterized in vitro and in vivo. P. falciparum has shown to evolve extreme artemisinin resistance as well as co-resistance to antimalarial drugs. Overall, the present information shall be very useful in devising newer therapeutic strategies to treat human malaria infection.
Part of the book: Plasmodium Species and Drug Resistance