Replenishing the malaria drug discovery pipeline: Screening and hit evaluation of the MMV Hit Generation Library 1 (HGL1) against asexual blood stage Plasmodium falciparum, using a nano luciferase reporter read-out
K. Dechering et al., SLAS Discovery (22), 2022
A central challenge of antimalarial therapy is the emergence of resistance to the components of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) and the urgent need for new drugs acting through novel mechanism of action. Over the last decade, compounds identified in phenotypic high throughput screens (HTS) have provided the starting point for six candidate drugs currently in the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) clinical development portfolio. However, the published screening data which provided much of the new chemical matter for malaria drug discovery projects have been extensively mined. Here we present a new screening and selection cascade for generation of hit compounds active against the blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum.
L.E. de Vries et al., Nature Communications 13(1), 2022
Drug resistance and a dire lack of transmission-blocking antimalarials hamper malaria elimination. Here, we present the pantothenamide MMV693183 as a first-in-class acetyl-CoA synthetase (AcAS) inhibitor to enter preclinical development. Our studies demonstrate attractive drug-like properties and in vivo efficacy in a humanized mouse model of Plasmodium falciparum infection. The compound shows single digit nanomolar in vitro activity against P. falciparum and P. vivax clinical isolates, and potently blocks P. falciparum transmission to Anopheles mosquitoes. Genetic and biochemical studies identify AcAS as the target of the MMV693183-derived antimetabolite, CoA-MMV693183. Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling predict that a single 30 mg oral dose is sufficient to cure a malaria infection in humans. Toxicology studies in rats indicate a > 30-fold safety margin in relation to the predicted human efficacious exposure. In conclusion, MMV693183 represents a promising candidate for further (pre)clinical development with a novel mode of action for treatment of malaria and blocking transmission
The Nitrobenzoxadiazole Derivative NBDHEX Behaves as Plasmodium falciparum Gametocyte Selective Inhibitor with Malaria Parasite Transmission Blocking Activity
G. Siciliano et al., Pharmaceuticals 15(2), 2022
This work describes the activity of 6-((7-nitrobenzo[c][1,2,5]oxadiazol-4-yl)thio)hexan-1-ol (NBDHEX) and of its newly identified carboxylic acid metabolite on the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. NBDHEX has been previously identified as a potent cytotoxic agent against murine and human cancer cells as well as towards the protozoan parasite Giardia duodenalis. We show here that NBDHEX is active in vitro against all blood stages of P. falciparum, with the rare feature of killing the parasite stages transmissible to mosquitoes, the gametocytes, with a 4-fold higher potency than that on the pathogenic asexual stages. This activity importantly translates into blocking parasite transmission through the Anopheles vector in mosquito experimental infections.
Barcoded Asaia bacteria enable mosquito in vivo screens and identify novel systemic insecticides and inhibitors of malaria transmission
A. Sturm et al., PLOS Biology 19(12) 2021
This work addresses the need for new chemical matter in product development for control of pest insects and vector-borne diseases. We present a barcoding strategy that enables phe- notypic screens of blood-feeding insects against small molecules in microtiter plate-based arrays and apply this to discovery of novel systemic insecticides and compounds that block malaria parasite development in the mosquito vector. Encoding of the blood meals was achieved through recombinant DNA-tagged Asaia bacteria that successfully colonised Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes.
B. Forte et al., ACS Infect Dis. 2021 Sep 15
ABSTRACTThere is a shift in antimalarial drug discovery from phenotypic screening toward target-based approaches, as more potential drug targets are being validated in Plasmodium species. Given the high attrition rate and high cost of drug discovery, it is important to select the targets most likely to deliver progressible drug candidates. In this paper, we describe the criteria that we consider important for selecting targets for antimalarial drug discovery. We describe the analysis of a number of drug targets in the Malaria Drug Accelerator (MalDA) pipeline, which has allowed us to prioritize targets that are ready to enter the drug discovery process. (more…)
Discovery and Structure-Activity Relationships of Quinazolinone-2-carboxamide Derivatives as Novel Orally Efficacious Antimalarials
Laleu B., et al., J Med Chem. 2021 Aug 26
ABSTRACTA phenotypic high-throughput screen allowed discovery of quinazolinone-2-carboxamide derivatives as a novel antimalarial scaffold. Structure-activity relationship studies led to identification of a potent inhibitor 19f, 95-fold more potent than the original hit compound, active against laboratory-resistant strains of malaria. Profiling of 19f suggested a fast in vitro killing profile. In vivo activity in a murine model of human malaria in a dose-dependent manner constitutes a concomitant benefit. (more…)
Yang et al., Trends Parasitol. 2021 Jul 7
The Malaria Drug Accelerator (MalDA) is a consortium of 15 leading scientific laboratories. The aim of MalDA is to improve and accelerate the early antimalarial drug discovery process by identifying new, essential, druggable targets. In addition, it seeks to produce early lead inhibitors that may be advanced into drug candidates suitable for preclinical development and subsequent clinical testing in humans.(more…)
Repositioning and Characterization of 1-(Pyridin-4-yl)pyrrolidin-2-one Derivatives as Plasmodium Cytoplasmic Prolyl-tRNA Synthetase Inhibitors
Okaniwa et al., ACS Infect Dis. 2021 jun 11
ABSTRACTProlyl-tRNA synthetase (PRS) is a clinically validated antimalarial target. Screening of a set of PRS ATP-site binders, initially designed for human indications, led to identification of 1-(pyridin-4-yl)pyrrolidin-2-one derivatives representing a novel antimalarial scaffold. Evidence designates cytoplasmic PRS as the drug target. The frontrunner 1 and its active enantiomer 1-S exhibited low-double-digit nanomolar activity against resistant Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) laboratory strains and development of liver schizonts. No cross-resistance with strains resistant to other known antimalarials was noted. In addition, a similar level of growth inhibition was observed against clinical field isolates of Pf and P. vivax. (more…)
Generation of a Genetically Modified Chimeric Plasmodium falciparum Parasite Expressing Plasmodium vivax Circumsporozoite Protein for Malaria Vaccine Development
Miyazaki et al., Front Cell Infect Micorbiol. 2020 Dec 17
ABSTRACTChimeric rodent malaria parasites with the endogenous circumsporozoite protein (csp) gene replaced with csp from the human parasites Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) and P. vivax (Pv) are used in preclinical evaluation of CSP vaccines. Chimeric rodent parasites expressing PfCSP have also been assessed as whole sporozoite (WSP) vaccines. Comparable chimeric P. falciparum parasites expressing CSP of P. vivax could be used both for clinical evaluation of vaccines targeting PvCSP in controlled human P. falciparum infections and in WSP vaccines targeting P. vivax and P. falciparum. (more…)
The Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein produced in Lactococcus lactis is pure and stable.
Singh, S.K. et al., J Biol Chem. 2020 Jan 10
ABSTRACTThe Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP) is a sporozoite surface protein whose role in sporozoite motility and cell invasion has made it the leading candidate for a pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine. However, production of high yields of soluble recombinant PfCSP, including its extensive NANP and NVDP repeats, has proven problematic. Here, we report on the development and characterization of a secreted, soluble, and stable full-length PfCSP (containing 4 NVDP and 38 NANP repeats) produced in the Lactococcus lactis expression system. The recombinant full-length PfCSP, denoted PfCSP4/38, was produced initially with a histidine tag and purified by a simple two-step procedure. (more…)
Antimalarial pantothenamide metabolites target acetyl–coenzyme A biosynthesis in Plasmodium falciparum
Schalkwijk et al., Sci. Transl. Med 2019 Sept 19
ABSTRACTMalaria eradication is critically dependent on new therapeutics that target resistant Plasmodium parasites and block transmission of the disease. Here, we report that pantothenamide bioisosteres were active against blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum parasites and also blocked transmission of sexual stages to the mosquito vector. These compounds were resistant to degradation by serum pantetheinases, showed favorable pharmacokinetic properties, and cleared parasites in a humanized mouse model of P. falciparum infection. (more…)
Miglianico M. et al., PNAS 2018 July 02
Isoxazolines are oral insecticidal drugs currently licensed for ectoparasite control in companion animals. Here we propose their use in humans for the reduction of vector-borne disease incidence. Fluralaner and afoxolaner rapidly killed Anopheles, Aedes, and Culex mosquitoes and Phlebotomus sand flies after feeding on a drug-supplemented blood meal, with IC50 values ranging from 33 to 575 nM, and were fully active against strains with preexist- ing resistance to common insecticides.