Targeting Channels and Transporters in Protozoan Parasite Infections
Infectious diseases caused by pathogenic protozoa are among the most significant causes of death in humans. Therapeutic options are scarce and massively challenged by the emergence of resistant parasite strains. Many of the current anti-parasite drugs target soluble enzymes, generate unspecific oxidative stress, or act by an unresolved mechanism within the parasite. In recent years, collections of drug-like compounds derived from large-scale phenotypic screenings, such as the malaria or pathogen box, have been made available to researchers free of charge boosting the identification of novel promising targets. Remarkably, several of the compound hits have been found to inhibit membrane proteins at the periphery of the parasites, i.e., channels and transporters for ions and metabolites. In this review, we will focus on the progress made on targeting channels and transporters at different levels and the potential for use against infections with apicomplexan parasites mainly Plasmodium spp. (malaria) and Toxoplasma gondii (toxoplasmosis), with kinetoplastids Trypanosoma brucei (sleeping sickness), Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas disease), and Leishmania ssp. (leishmaniasis), and the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica (amoebiasis).