Prolyl-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 and its active enantiomer exhibited low-double-digit nanomolar activity against resistant () 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 and . The slow killing profile and the relative high propensity to develop resistance (minimum inoculum resistance of 8 × 10 parasites at a selection pressure of 3 × IC) constitute unfavorable features for treatment of malaria. However, potent blood stage and antischizontal activity are compelling for causal prophylaxis which does not require fast onset of action. Achieving sufficient on-target selectivity appears to be particularly challenging and should be the primary focus during the next steps of optimization of this chemical series. Encouraging preliminary off-target profile and oral efficacy in a humanized murine model of malaria allowed us to conclude that 1-(pyridin-4-yl)pyrrolidin-2-one derivatives represent a promising starting point for the identification of novel antimalarial prophylactic agents that selectively target PRS.
To view the full article please visit the ACS Publications website.