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J Med Chem. 2006 Dec 14;49(25):7440-9.

High antiplasmodial activity of novel plasmepsins I and II inhibitors.

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Department of Pharmacological Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Milan, Milan 20100, Italy.


The aim of this study was to develop new antiplasmodial compounds acting through distinct mechanisms during both the liver and the blood stages of the parasite life cycle. Compounds were designed on the basis of the "double-drug" approach: primaquine, which has been linked to statine-based inhibitors of plasmepsins (PLMs), the plasmodial aspartic proteases involved in degradation of hemeoglobin. The compounds were tested in vitro for anti-PLM I/PLM II activities and against chloroquine-sensitive (D10) and chloroquine-resistant (W2) strains of P. falciparum. An antiplasmodial activity (IC(50)) as low as 0.1 microM was obtained, an excellent improvement in comparison with inhibitors previously reported (IC(50) = 2-20 microM). The killing activity was equally directed against both P. falciparum strains and was correlated to lipophilicity (calculated as ALogP), for all compounds but one (9). All compounds inhibited PLM I and PLM II in the nanomolar range (K(i) = 1-700 nM). The most promising compounds (2, 6, 10) were not cytotoxic against human fibroblasts at 100 microM and were highly selective for PLMs vs human cathepsin D.

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