Baker DA. et al., Nat Commun. 2017 Sep. 5
To combat drug resistance, new chemical entities are urgently required for use in next generation anti-malarial combinations. We report here the results of a medicinal chemistry programme focused on an imidazopyridine series targeting the Plasmodium falciparumcyclic GMP-dependent protein kinase (PfPKG). The most potent compound (ML10) has an IC50 of 160 pM in a PfPKG kinase assay and inhibits P. falciparum blood stage proliferation in vitro with an EC50of 2.1 nM. Oral dosing renders blood stage parasitaemia undetectable in vivo using a P. falciparum SCID mouse model. The series targets both merozoite egress and erythrocyte invasion, but crucially, also blocks transmission of mature P. falciparumgametocytes to Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. A co-crystal structure of PvPKG bound to ML10, reveals intimate molecular contacts that explain the high levels of potency and selectivity we have measured. The properties of this series warrant consideration for further development to produce an antimalarial drug.