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Anal Biochem. 2005 Mar 15;338(2):306-19.

A colorimetric high-throughput beta-hematin inhibition screening assay for use in the search for antimalarial compounds.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa.


Antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine are believed to act by inhibiting hemozoin formation in the food vacuole of the malaria parasite. We have developed a new assay for measuring and detecting inhibition of synthetic hemozoin (beta-hematin) formation. Aqueous pyridine (5% v/v, pH 7.5) forms a low-spin complex with hematin but not with beta-hematin. Its absorbance obeys Beer's law, making it useful for quantitating hematin concentration in hematin/beta-hematin mixtures, allowing compounds to be investigated for inhibition of beta-hematin formation. The assay is rapid (60 min incubation) and requires no centrifugation. The beta-hematin inhibition data show good agreement with alternative assay methods reported by four laboratories. The assay was adapted for high-throughput colorimetric screening, allowing visual identification of beta-hematin inhibitors. In this mode, the assay successfully detected all 18 beta-hematin inhibitors in a set of 47 compounds tested, with no false positive results. The quantitative in vitro antimalarial activities of a set of 13 aminoquinolines and quinoline methanols were found to correlate significantly with beta-hematin inhibition values determined using the assay.

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