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This article is part of the supplement: Natural products for the control of malaria

Open Access Reviews

A “reverse pharmacology” approach for developing an anti-malarial phytomedicine

Merlin L Willcox*, Bertrand Graz, Jacques Falquet, Chiaka Diakite, Sergio Giani and Drissa Diallo

Malaria Journal 2011, 10(Suppl 1):S8  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-S1-S8

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Confusing nomenclature

Konrad Koehler   (2012-07-16 10:11)  self

I applaud the authors for exploring this very interesting and worthwhile approach to developing new medicines.

One minor issue that may be a source of confusion is the use of the term "reverse pharmacology" to describe this method. I realize that this term was coined in India in the mid 2000s. However this same term has been widely used in the drug discovery literature with a very different and almost opposite meaning dating at least as far back as 1990:

Reverse pharmacology applied to the cannabinoid receptor.

Classical vs reverse pharmacology in drug discovery.

In this older usage, reverse pharmacology is defined as a drug discovery method based on screening of compounds against purified protein targets and then testing for efficacy in animals. In contrast, classical or forward pharmacology is based on screening compounds in biological systems looking for a desirable therapeutic effect and then determine the target afterwards. Hence the method described in this paper has far more in common with classical/forward pharmacology than reverse pharmacology.

I think a new phrase is needed to describe this approach in order to avoid confusion with the older drug discovery literature.

Competing interests

No competing interests.

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