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24 Jun 2016

Eukaryotic microbial pathogens are major contributors to illness and death globally.  Although much of their impact can be controlled by drug therapy as with prokaryotic microorganisms, the emergence of drug resistance has threatened these treatment efforts.  Here, we discuss the challenges posed by eukaryotic microbial pathogens and how these are similar to, or differ from, the challenges of prokaryotic antibiotic resistance.  The therapies used for several major eukaryotic microorganisms are then detailed, and the mechanisms that they have evolved to overcome these therapies are described.  The rapid emergence of resistance and the restricted pipeline of new drug therapies pose considerable risks to global health and are particularly acute in the developing world.  Nonetheless, we detail how the integration of new technology, biological understanding, epidemiology and evolutionary analysis can help sustain existing therapies, anticipate the emergence of resistance or optimize the deployment of new therapies.