The evolution of resistance in Plasmodium falciparum against safe and affordable drugs such as chloroquine (CQ) and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) is a major global health threat. Investigating the dynamics of resistance against these antimalarial drugs will lead to approaches for addressing the problem of resistance in malarial parasites that are solidly based in evolutionary genetics and population biology. In this article, we discuss current developments in population biology modeling and evolutionary genetics. Despite great advancements achieved in the past decade, understanding the complex dynamics of mutations conferring drug resistance in P. falciparum requires approaches that consider the parasite population structure among other demographic processes.
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This paper is based on a presentation at the conference on Anti-Malarial Drug Treatments organized by Research for the Future (RFF), Kruger National Park, South Africa, April 2008. RFF was supported by the grant 44811 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This research is partially supported by the grant R01GM084320 (AE) from the National Institute of Health and DEB-0449581 (YK) from National Science Foundation.