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International journal for parasitology [journal]
- Target-based vs. phenotypic screenings in Leishmania drug discovery: A marriage of convenience or a dialogue of the deaf? [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):355-7.
Drug discovery programs sponsored by public or private initiatives pursue the same ambitious goal: a crushing defeat of major Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) during this decade. Both target-based and target-free screenings have pros and cons when it comes to finding potential small-molecule leads among chemical libraries consisting of myriads of compounds. Within the target-based strategy, crystals of pathogen recombinant-proteins are being used to obtain three-dimensional (3D) structures in silico for the discovery of structure-based inhibitors. On the other hand, genetically modified parasites expressing easily detectable reporters are in the pipeline of target-free (phenotypic) screenings. Furthermore, lead compounds can be scaled up to in vivo preclinical trials using rodent models of infection monitoring parasite loads by means of cutting-edge bioimaging devices. As such, those preferred are fluorescent and bioluminescent readouts due to their reproducibility and rapidity, which reduces the number of animals used in the trials and allows for an earlier stage detection of the infective process as compared with classical methods. In this review, we focus on the current differences between target-based and phenotypic screenings in Leishmania, as an approach that leads to the discovery of new potential drugs against leishmaniasis.
- Tyrosine aminotransferase from Leishmania infantum: A new drug target candidate. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):347-54.
Leishmania infantum is the etiological agent of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis in the Mediterranean basin. The disease is fatal without treatment, which has been based on antimonial pentavalents for more than 60 years. Due to resistances, relapses and toxicity to current treatment, the development of new drugs is required. The structure of the L. infantum tyrosine aminotransferase (LiTAT) has been recently solved showing important differences with the mammalian orthologue. The characterization of LiTAT is reported herein. This enzyme is cytoplasmic and is over-expressed in the more infective stages and nitric oxide resistant parasites. Unlike the mammalian TAT, LiTAT is able to use ketomethiobutyrate as co-substrate. The pharmacophore model of LiTAT with this specific co-substrate is described herein. This may allow the identification of new inhibitors present in the databases. All the data obtained support that LiTAT is a good target candidate for the development of new anti-leishmanial drugs.
- Reverse pharmacology for developing an anti-malarial phytomedicine. The example of Argemone mexicana. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):338-46.
Classical pharmacology has been the basis for the discovery of new chemical entities with therapeutic effects for decades. In natural product research, compounds are generally tested in vivo only after full in vitro characterization. However drug screening using this methodology is expensive, time-consuming and very often inefficient. Reverse pharmacology, also called bedside-to-bench, is a research approach based on the traditional knowledge and relates to reversing the classical laboratory to clinic pathway to a clinic to laboratory practice. It is a trans-disciplinary approach focused on traditional knowledge, experimental observations and clinical experiences. This paper is an overview of the reverse pharmacology approach applied to the decoction of Argemone mexicana, used as an antimalarial traditional medicine in Mali. A. mexicana appeared as the most effective traditional medicine for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Mali, and the clinical efficacy of the decoction was comparable to artesunate-amodiaquine as previously published. Four stages of the reverse pharmacology process will be described here with a special emphasis on the results for stage 4. Briefly, allocryptopine, protopine and berberine were isolated through bioguided fractionation, and had their identity confirmed by spectroscopic analysis. The three alkaloids showed antiparasitic activity in vitro, of which allocryptopine and protopine were selective towards Plasmodium falciparum. Furthermore, the amount of the three active alkaloids in the decoction was determined by quantitative NMR, and preliminary in vivo assays were conducted. On the basis of these results, the reverse pharmacology approach is discussed and further pharmacokinetic studies appear to be necessary in order to determine whether these alkaloids can be considered as phytochemical markers for quality control and standardization of an improved traditional medicine made with this plant.
- Trypanosomatids topoisomerase re-visited. New structural findings and role in drug discovery. [Journal Article, Review]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):326-37.
The Trypanosomatidae family, composed of unicellular parasites, causes severe vector-borne diseases that afflict human populations worldwide. Chagas disease, sleeping sickness, as well as different sorts of leishmaniases are amongst the most important infectious diseases produced by Trypanosoma cruzi, Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania spp., respectively. All these infections are closely related to weak health care services in low-income populations of less developed and least economically developed countries. Search for new therapeutic targets in order to hit these pathogens is of paramount priority, as no effective vaccine is currently in use against any of these parasites. Furthermore, present-day chemotherapy comprises old-fashioned drugs full of important side effects. Besides, they are prone to produce tolerance and resistance as a consequence of their continuous use for decades. DNA topoisomerases (Top) are ubiquitous enzymes responsible for solving the torsional tensions caused during replication and transcription processes, as well as in maintaining genomic stability during DNA recombination. As the inhibition of these enzymes produces cell arrest and triggers cell death, Top inhibitors are among the most effective and most widely used drugs in both cancer and antibacterial therapies. Top relaxation and decatenation activities, which are based on a common nicking-closing cycle involving one or both DNA strands, have been pointed as a promising drug target. Specific inhibitors that bind to the interface of DNA-Top complexes can stabilize Top-mediated transient DNA breaks. In addition, important structural differences have been found between Tops from the Trypanosomatidae family members and Tops from the host. Such dissimilarities make these proteins very interesting for drug design and molecular intervention. The present review is a critical update of the last findings regarding trypanosomatid's Tops, their new structural features, their involvement both in the physiology and virulence of these parasites, as well as their use as promising targets for drug discovery.
- Identification of β-hematin inhibitors in a high-throughput screening effort reveals scaffolds with in vitro antimalarial activity. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):316-25.
The emergence of drug resistant strains of Plasmodium spp. creates a critical need for the development of novel antimalarials. Formation of hemozoin, a crystalline heme detoxification process vital to parasite survival serves as an important drug target. The quinoline antimalarials including chloroquine and amodiaquine owe their antimalarial activity to inhibition of hemozoin formation. Though in vivo formation of hemozoin occurs within the presence of neutral lipids, the lipophilic detergent NP-40 was previously shown to serve as a surrogate in the β-hematin (synthetic hemozoin) formation process. Consequently, an NP-40 mediated β-hematin formation assay was developed for use in high-throughput screening. Here, the assay was utilized to screen 144,330 compounds for the identification of inhibitors of crystallization, resulting in 530 hits. To establish the effectiveness of these target-based β-hematin inhibitors against Plasmodium falciparum, each hit was further tested in cultures of parasitized red blood cells. This effort revealed that 171 of the β-hematin inhibitors are also active against the parasite. Dose-response data identified 73 of these β-hematin inhibitors have IC50 values ⩽5 μM, including 25 compounds with nanomolar activity against P. falciparum. A scaffold-based analysis of this data identified 14 primary scaffolds that represent 46% of the 530 total hits. Representative compounds from each of the classes were further assessed for hemozoin inhibitory activity in P. falciparum infected human erythrocytes. Each of the hit compounds tested were found to be positive inhibitors, while a negative control did not perturb this biological pathway in culture.
- Anthelmintic resistance in equine nematodes. [Journal Article, Review]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):310-5.
Anthelmintics have been applied indiscriminately to control horse nematodes for over 40 years. Three broad-spectrum anthelmintic classes are currently registered for nematode control in horses: benzimidazoles (fenbendazole, oxibendazole), tetrahydropyrimidines (pyrantel) and macrocyclic lactones (ivermectin, moxidectin). Generally, control strategies have focused on nematode egg suppression regimens that involve the frequent application of anthelmintics to all horses at intervals based on strongyle egg reappearance periods after treatment. The widespread use of such programmes has substantially reduced clinical disease, especially that associated with large strongyle species; however, high treatment frequency has led to considerable selection pressure for anthelmintic resistance, particularly in cyathostomin species. Field studies published over the last decade indicate that benzimidazole resistance is widespread globally in cyathostomins and there are also many reports of resistance to pyrantel in these worms. Cyathostomin resistance to macrocyclic lactone compounds is emerging, principally measured as a reduction in strongyle egg reappearance time observed after treatment. Ivermectin resistance is a further concern in the small intestinal nematode, Parascaris equorum, an important pathogen of foals. These issues indicate that horse nematodes must now be controlled using methods less dependent on anthelmintic use and more reliant on management practices designed to reduce the force of infection in the environment. Such strategies include improved grazing management integrated with targeted anthelmintic administration involving faecal egg count (FEC)-directed treatments. The latter require that the supporting diagnostic tests available are robust and practically applicable. Recent research has focused on maximising the value of FEC analysis in horses and on optimizing protocols for anthelmintic efficacy testing. Other studies have sought to develop diagnostics that will help define levels of pre-patent infection. This review describes recent advances in each of these areas of research.
- Schistosome ABC multidrug transporters: From pharmacology to physiology. [Journal Article, Review]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):301-9.
Praziquantel (PZQ) is essentially the only drug currently available for treatment and control of schistosomiasis, a disease affecting hundreds of millions worldwide. Though highly effective overall, PZQ has limitations, most notably its significant lack of activity against immature schistosomes. Furthermore, the availability of only a single drug for a disease of this magnitude makes reports of PZQ-resistant isolates particularly troubling. ATP-binding cassette (ABC) multidrug transporters such as P-glycoprotein (Pgp; ABCB1) are efflux transporters that underlie multidrug resistance (MDR); changes in their expression or structure are also associated with drug resistance in parasites, including helminths. This review will discuss the role these transporters might play in modulating schistosome susceptibility to PZQ, and the implications for developing new or repurposed treatments that enhance the efficacy of PZQ. However, in addition to influencing drug susceptibility, ABC transporters play important roles in several critical physiological functions such as excretion and maintenance of permeability barriers. They also transport signaling molecules with high affinity, and several lines of evidence implicate mammalian transporters in a diverse array of physiological functions, including regulation of immune responses. Like their mammalian counterparts, schistosome ABC transporters appear to be involved in functions critical to the parasite, including excretory activity and reproduction, and we hypothesize that they underlie at least some aspects of parasite-host interactions. Thus, in addition to their potential as targets for enhancers of PZQ susceptibility, these transporters might also serve as candidate targets for agents that disrupt the parasite life cycle and act as antischistosomals on their own.
- Praziquantel sensitivity of Kenyan Schistosoma mansoni isolates and the generation of a laboratory strain with reduced susceptibility to the drug. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):296-300.
Schistosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by blood-dwelling flukes of the genus Schistosoma. While the disease may affect as many as 249 million people, treatment largely relies on a single drug, praziquantel. The near exclusive use of this drug for such a prevalent disease has led to concerns regarding the potential for drug resistance to arise and the effect this would have on affected populations. In this study, we use an in vitro assay of drug sensitivity to test the effect of praziquantel on miracidia hatched from eggs obtained from fecal samples of Kenyan adult car washers and sand harvesters as well as school children. Whereas in a previous study we found the car washers and sand harvesters to harbor Schistosoma mansoni with reduced praziquantel sensitivity, we found no evidence for the presence of such strains in any of the groups tested here. Using miracidia derived from seven car washers to infect snails, we used the shed cercariae to establish a strain of S. mansoni with significantly reduced praziquantel sensitivity in mice. This was achieved within 5 generations by administering increasing doses of praziquantel to the infected mice until the parasites could withstand a normally lethal dose. This result indicates that while the threat of praziquantel resistance may have diminished in the Kenyan populations tested here, there is a strong likelihood it could return if sufficient praziquantel pressure is applied.
- Serum albumin and α-1 acid glycoprotein impede the killing of Schistosoma mansoni by the tyrosine kinase inhibitor Imatinib. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):287-95.
In the search for new drugs and drug targets to treat the flatworm disease schistosomiasis, protein kinases (PKs) have come under particular scrutiny because of their essential roles in developmental and physiological processes in schistosome parasites. In this context the application of the anti-cancer Abl tyrosine kinase (TK) inhibitor Imatinib (Gleevec/Glivec; STI-571) to adult Schistosoma mansoni in vitro has indicated negative effects on diverse physiological processes including survival. Motivated by these in vitro findings, we performed in vivo experiments in rodent models of S. mansoni infection. Unexpectedly, Imatinib had no effect on worm burden or egg-production. We found that the blood components serum albumin (SA) and alpha-1 acid glycoprotein (AGP or orosomucoid) negated Imatinib's deleterious effects on adult S. mansoni and schistosomula (post-infective larvae) in vitro. This negative effect was partially reversed by erythromycin. AGP synthesis can increase as a consequence of inflammatory processes or infection; in addition upon infection AGP levels are 6-8 times higher in mice compared to humans. Therefore, mice and probably other rodents are poor infection models for measuring the effects of Imatinib in vivo. Accordingly, we suggest the routine evaluation of the ability of AGP and SA to block in vitro anti-schistosomal effects of small molecules like Imatinib prior to laborious and expensive animal experiments.
- Repurposing of approved drugs from the human pharmacopoeia to target Wolbachia endosymbionts of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. [Journal Article]
- Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist 2014 Dec; 4(3):278-86.
Lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis are debilitating diseases caused by parasitic filarial nematodes infecting around 150 million people throughout the tropics with more than 1.5 billion at risk. As with other neglected tropical diseases, classical drug-discovery and development is lacking and a 50 year programme of macrofilaricidal discovery failed to deliver a drug which can be used as a public health tool. Recently, antibiotic targeting of filarial Wolbachia, an essential bacterial symbiont, has provided a novel drug treatment for filariasis with macrofilaricidal activity, although the current gold-standard, doxycycline, is unsuitable for use in mass drug administration (MDA). The anti-Wolbachia (A·WOL) Consortium aims to identify novel anti-Wolbachia drugs, compounds or combinations that are suitable for use in MDA. Development of a Wolbachia cell-based assay has enabled the screening of the approved human drug-pharmacopoeia (∼2600 drugs) for a potential repurposing. This screening strategy has revealed that approved drugs from various classes show significant bacterial load reduction equal to or superior to the gold-standard doxycycline, with 69 orally available hits from different drug categories being identified. Based on our defined hit criteria, 15 compounds were then selectively screened in a Litomosoides sigmodontis mouse model, 4 of which were active. These came from the tetracycline, fluoroquinolone and rifamycin classes. This strategy of repurposing approved drugs is a promising development in the goal of finding a novel treatment against filariasis and could also be a strategy applicable for other neglected tropical diseases.