Chemical signatures and new drug targets for gametocytocidal drug development

17 Jan 2014

Wei Sun, Takeshi Q. Tanaka, Crystal T. Magle, Wenwei Huang, Noel Southall, Ruili Huang, Seameen J. Dehdashti, John C. McKew, Kim C. Williamson, & Wei Zheng.

Scientific Reports

DOI: 10.1038/srep03743.


Control of parasite transmission is critical for the eradication of malaria. However, most antimalarial drugs are not active against P. falciparum gametocytes, responsible for the spread of malaria. Consequently, patients can remain infectious for weeks after the clearance of asexual parasites and clinical symptoms. Here we report the identification of 27 potent gametocytocidal compounds (IC50 < 1 μM) from screening 5,215 known drugs and compounds. All these compounds were active against three strains of gametocytes with different drug sensitivities and geographical origins, 3D7, HB3 and Dd2. Cheminformatic analysis revealed chemical signatures for P. falciparum sexual and asexual stages indicative of druggability and suggesting potential targets. Torin 2, a top lead compound (IC50 = 8 nM against gametocytes in vitro), completely blocked oocyst formation in a mouse model of transmission. These results provide critical new leads and potential targets to expand the repertoire of malaria transmission-blocking reagents.

Read the full article on the US National Library of Medicine website.