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Nature. 2016 Sep 8;537(7619):229-233. doi: 10.1038/nature19339. Epub 2016 Aug 8.

Proteasome inhibition for treatment of leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness.

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Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, 10675 John Jay Hopkins Drive, San Diego, California 92121, USA.
Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8TA, UK.
Centre for Immunology and Infection, Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK.
Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA.
Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, 10 Biopolis Road, Singapore 138670.


Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness affect 20 million people worldwide and lead to more than 50,000 deaths annually. The diseases are caused by infection with the kinetoplastid parasites Trypanosoma cruzi, Leishmania spp. and Trypanosoma brucei spp., respectively. These parasites have similar biology and genomic sequence, suggesting that all three diseases could be cured with drugs that modulate the activity of a conserved parasite target. However, no such molecular targets or broad spectrum drugs have been identified to date. Here we describe a selective inhibitor of the kinetoplastid proteasome (GNF6702) with unprecedented in vivo efficacy, which cleared parasites from mice in all three models of infection. GNF6702 inhibits the kinetoplastid proteasome through a non-competitive mechanism, does not inhibit the mammalian proteasome or growth of mammalian cells, and is well-tolerated in mice. Our data provide genetic and chemical validation of the parasite proteasome as a promising therapeutic target for treatment of kinetoplastid infections, and underscore the possibility of developing a single class of drugs for these neglected diseases.

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Conflict of interest statement

Patents related to this work has been filed (WO 2015/095477 A1, WO 2014/151784 A1, WO 2014/151729). Several authors own shares of Novartis.

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