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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1979 December; 16(6): 710–718.
PMCID: PMC352941

Quantitative assessment of antimalarial activity in vitro by a semiautomated microdilution technique.


A rapid, semiautomated microdilution method was developed for measuring the activity of potential antimalarial drugs against cultured intraerythrocytic asexual forms of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Microtitration plates were used to prepare serial dilutions of the compounds to be tested. Parasites, obtained from continuous stock cultures, were subcultured in these plates for 42 h. Inhibition of uptake of a radiolabeled nucleic acid precursor by the parasites served as the indicator of antimalarial activity. Results of repeated measurements of activity with chloroquine, quinine, and the investigational new drug mefloquine demonstrated that the method is sensitive and precise. Several additional antimalarial drugs and compounds of interest were tested in vitro, and the results were consistent with available in vivo data. The use of P. falciparum isolates with known susceptibility to antimalarial drugs also permitted evaluation of the cross-resistance potential of each compound tested. The applications and expectations of this new test system within a drug development program are discussed.

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