Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 August 2013
Drugs that kill or inhibit the sexual stages of Plasmodium in order to prevent transmission are important components of malaria control programmes. Reducing gametocyte carriage is central to the control of Plasmodium falciparum transmission as infection can result in extended periods of gametocytaemia. Unfortunately the number of drugs with activity against gametocytes is limited. Primaquine is currently the only licensed drug with activity against the sexual stages of malaria parasites and its use is hampered by safety concerns. This shortcoming is likely the result of the technical challenges associated with gametocyte studies together with the focus of previous drug discovery campaigns on asexual parasite stages. However recent emphasis on malaria eradication has resulted in an upsurge of interest in identifying compounds with activity against gametocytes. This review examines the gametocytocidal properties of currently available drugs as well as those in the development pipeline and examines the prospects for discovery of new anti-gametocyte compounds.