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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 363505, 6 pages
Review Article

Insights Gained from P. falciparum Cultivation in Modified Media

The Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20852, USA

Received 15 May 2013; Accepted 23 June 2013

Academic Editors: A. V. O. Ofulla and C. Ouma

Copyright © 2013 Sanjay A. Desai. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In vitro cultivation of Plasmodium falciparum, the agent of severe human malaria, has enabled advances in basic research and accelerated the development of new therapies. Since the introduction of in vitro parasite culture nearly 40 years ago, most workers have used a medium consisting of RPMI 1640 medium supplemented with lipids and hypoxanthine. While these standardized conditions yield robust parasite growth and facilitate comparison of results from different studies, they may also lead to implicit assumptions that limit future advances. Here, I review recent studies that used modified culture conditions to challenge these assumptions and explore parasite physiology. The findings are relevant to understanding in vivo parasite phenotypes and the prioritization of antimalarial targets.