Diseases caused by protozoan (type of microbe) and helminth (type of worm) parasites are among the leading causes of death and disease in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Efforts to control the vector (carrier) of these diseases are often difficult due to pesticide resistance, concerns regarding damage to the environment, and lack of adequate support to apply existing vector control methods.
There currently are no vaccines to prevent or control the spread of parasitic diseases. Thus, control of these diseases depends heavily on the availability of drugs. Unfortunately, most existing treatments are either not completely effective or they are toxic (poisonous) to people.
In a number of cases, even safe and effective drugs are failing as a result of the selection and spread of drug resistant types or parasites. This is best dramatized by the global spread of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, the protozoan responsible for the most lethal form of malaria. Therefore, we urgently need new treatments.
Last Updated November 05, 2010
Last Reviewed November 05, 2010