Chemical genetics of Plasmodium falciparum

20 May 2010

W. Armand Guiguemde, Anang A. Shelat, David Bouck, Sandra Duffy, Gregory J. Crowther, Paul H. Davis, David C. Smithson, Michele Connelly, Julie Clark, Fangyi Zhu, María B. Jiménez-Díaz, María S. Martinez, Emily B. Wilson, Abhai K. Tripathi, Jiri Gut, Elizabeth R. Sharlow, Ian Bathurst, Farah El Mazouni, Joseph W. Fowble, Isaac Forquer, Paula L. McGinley, Steve Castro, Iñigo Angulo-Barturen, Santiago Ferrer, Philip J. Rosenthal, Joseph L. DeRisi, David J. Sullivan, John S. Lazo, David S. Roos, Michael K. Riscoe, Margaret A. Phillips, Pradipsinh K. Rathod, Wesley C. Van Voorhis, Vicky M. Avery and R. Kiplin Guy


DOI: 10.1038/nature09099

Published in Nature, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in collaboration with MMV (and with Ian Bathurst as a co-author) and other partners, describe the screening and profiling of hits from their phenotypic screen against P. falciparum. The main series is currently being worked on in Lead Optimization within the MMV portfolio. The data and structures of the confirmed hits have been made available in the ChEMBL-NTD online database.


Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is a disease that is responsible for 880,000 deaths per year worldwide. Vaccine development has proved difficult and resistance has emerged for most antimalarial drugs. To discover new antimalarial chemotypes, we have used a phenotypic forward chemical genetic approach to assay 309,474 chemicals. Here we disclose structures and biological activity of the entire library—many of which showed potent in vitro activity against drug-resistant P. falciparum strains—and detailed profiling of 172 representative candidates. A reverse chemical genetic study identified 19 new inhibitors of 4 validated drug targets and 15 novel binders among 61 malarial proteins. Phylochemogenetic profiling in several organisms revealed similarities between Toxoplasma gondii and mammalian cell lines and dissimilarities between P. falciparum and related protozoans. One exemplar compound displayed efficacy in a murine model. Our findings provide the scientific community with new starting points for malaria drug discovery.

The full article can be viewed on Nature's website.