ATP Cassette Binding Cassette (ABC) efflux transporters are members of a very large family of proteins found widely in both plant and animal kingdoms. Binding of ATP and subsequent hydrolysis provides the energy and motive force for transport of their substrates. Some of the transporters have a very broad range of different substances they are able to transport. These so called multidrug transporters have in many cases been associated with resistance to anitcancer drugs, hence being of interest as potential therapeutic targets for inhibition. However their major role in healthy tissues is for protection, expelling unwanted substances at various tusses sites including the blood-brain barrier. Data will be presented showing how some of the ABC efflux transporters are situated on brain vascular endothelial cells, what they transport and what factors influence their levels of expression under different conditions eg during development and in certain pathological states, thus outlining the importance of retaining rather than inhibiting their activities. Evidence for the presence of ABC efflux transporters on erythrocytes will also be provided and suggestions made of their possible function not only in normal healthy cells but also in those infected with malarial parasites. The suitability as therapeutic targets of ABC transporters present in either host or parasite will be discussed.
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