Synopsis

• Viruses present a more difficult problem of chemotherapy than do higher organisms, e.g. bacteria, for they are intracellular parasites that use the metabolism of host cells. Highly selective toxicity is, therefore, harder to achieve. Identification of differences between viral and human metabolism has led to the development of effective antiviral agents, whose roles are increasingly well defined.

• Fungus infections range from inconvenient skin conditions to life-threatening systemic diseases; the latter have become more frequent as opportunistic infections in patients immunocompromised by drugs or AIDS, or receiving intensive medical and surgical interventions in ICUs.

• Protozoal infections. Malaria is the major transmissible parasitic disease in the world. The life cycle of the plasmodium that is relevant to prophylaxis and therapy is described. Drug resistance is an increasing problem and differs with geographical location, and species of plasmodium.

• Helminthic infestations cause considerable morbidity.The drugs that are effective against these organisms are summarised.

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