Recent Advances in Chemotherapeutics for Leishmaniasis: Importance of the Cellular Biochemistry of the Parasite and Its Molecular Interaction with the Host

Ranjeet Singh, Mohammad Kashif, Prateek Srivastava, Partha Pratim Manna

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Leishmaniasis, a category 1 neglected protozoan disease caused by a kinetoplastid pathogen called Leishmania, is transmitted through dipteran insect vectors (phlebotomine, sand flies) in three main clinical forms: fatal visceral leishmaniasis, self-healing cutaneous leishmaniasis, and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis. Generic pentavalent antimonials have long been the drug of choice against leishmaniasis; however, their success is plagued with limitations such as drug resistance and severe side effects, which makes them redundant as frontline therapy for endemic visceral leishmaniasis. Alternative therapeutic regimens based on amphotericin B, miltefosine, and paromomycin have also been approved. Due to the unavailability of human vaccines, first-line chemotherapies such as pentavalent antimonials, pentamidine, and amphotericin B are the only options to treat infected individuals. The higher toxicity, adverse effects, and perceived cost of these pharmaceutics, coupled with the emergence of parasite resistance and disease relapse, makes it urgent to identify new, rationalized drug targets for the improvement in disease management and palliative care for patients. This has become an emergent need and more relevant due to the lack of information on validated molecular resistance markers for the monitoring and surveillance of changes in drug sensitivity and resistance. The present study reviewed the recent advances in chemotherapeutic regimens by targeting novel drugs using several strategies including bioinformatics to gain new insight into leishmaniasis. Leishmania has unique enzymes and biochemical pathways that are distinct from those of its mammalian hosts. In light of the limited number of available antileishmanial drugs, the identification of novel drug targets and studying the molecular and cellular aspects of these drugs in the parasite and its host is critical to design specific inhibitors targeting and controlling the parasite. The biochemical characterization of unique Leishmania-specific enzymes can be used as tools to read through possible drug targets. In this review, we discuss relevant metabolic pathways and novel drugs that are unique, essential, and linked to the survival of the parasite based on bioinformatics and cellular and biochemical analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number706
Number of pages36
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • ascorbate peroxidase
  • bioinformatics
  • calcium ion
  • chemoinformatics
  • drug resistance
  • drugs
  • inhibitors
  • PPDK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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