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1.  Screening and Development of New Inhibitors of FtsZ from M. Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0164100.
A variety of commercial analogs and a newer series of Sulindac derivatives were screened for inhibition of M. tuberculosis (Mtb) in vitro and specifically as inhibitors of the essential mycobacterial tubulin homolog, FtsZ. Due to the ease of preparing diverse analogs and a favorable in vivo pharmacokinetic and toxicity profile of a representative analog, the Sulindac scaffold may be useful for further development against Mtb with respect to in vitro bacterial growth inhibition and selective activity for Mtb FtsZ versus mammalian tubulin. Further discovery efforts will require separating reported mammalian cell activity from both antibacterial activity and inhibition of Mtb FtsZ. Modeling studies suggest that these analogs bind in a specific region of the Mtb FtsZ polymer that differs from human tubulin and, in combination with a pharmacophore model presented herein, future hybrid analogs of the reported active molecules that more efficiently bind in this pocket may improve antibacterial activity while improving other drug characteristics.
PMCID: PMC5074515  PMID: 27768711
2.  Potent Plasmodium falciparum Gametocytocidal Activity of Diaminonaphthoquinones, Lead Antimalarial Chemotypes Identified in an Antimalarial Compound Screen 
Forty percent of the world's population is threatened by malaria, which is caused by Plasmodium parasites and results in an estimated 200 million clinical cases and 650,000 deaths each year. Drug resistance has been reported for all commonly used antimalarials and has prompted screens to identify new drug candidates. However, many of these new candidates have not been evaluated against the parasite stage responsible for transmission, gametocytes. If Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes are not eliminated, patients continue to spread malaria for weeks after asexual parasite clearance. Asymptomatic individuals can also harbor gametocyte burdens sufficient for transmission, and a safe, effective gametocytocidal agent could also be used in community-wide malaria control programs. Here, we identify 15 small molecules with nanomolar activity against late-stage gametocytes. Fourteen are diaminonaphthoquinones (DANQs), and one is a 2-imino-benzo[d]imidazole (IBI). One of the DANQs identified, SJ000030570, is a lead antimalarial candidate. In contrast, 94% of the 650 compounds tested are inactive against late-stage gametocytes. Consistent with the ineffectiveness of most approved antimalarials against gametocytes, of the 19 novel compounds with activity against known anti-asexual-stage targets, only 3 had any strong effect on gametocyte viability. These data demonstrate the distinct biology of the transmission stages and emphasize the importance of screening for gametocytocidal activity. The potent gametocytocidal activity of DANQ and IBI coupled with their efficacy against asexual parasites provides leads for the development of antimalarials with the potential to prevent both the symptoms and the spread of malaria.
PMCID: PMC4325765  PMID: 25512421
3.  Lead Optimization of Anti-Malarial Propafenone Analogs 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(13):6087-6093.
Previously reported studies identified analogs of propafenone that had potent antimalarial activity, reduced cardiac ion channel activity, and properties that suggested the potential for clinical development for malaria. Careful examination of the bioavailability, pharmacokinetics, toxicology, and efficacy of this series of compounds using rodent models revealed orally bioavailable compounds that are non-toxic and suppress parasitemia in vivo. Although these compounds possess potential for further preclinical development, they also carry some significant challenges.
PMCID: PMC4408918  PMID: 22708838
propafenone; malaria; MTD; PK; CYP inhibition; hERG
4.  Dihydroquinazolinone Inhibitors of Proliferation of Blood and Liver Stage Malaria Parasites 
Drugs that target both the liver and blood stages of malaria will be needed to reduce the disease's substantial worldwide morbidity and mortality. Evaluation of a 259-member library of compounds that block proliferation of the blood stage of malaria revealed several scaffolds—dihydroquinazolinones, phenyldiazenylpyridines, piperazinyl methyl quinolones, and bis-benzimidazoles—with promising activity against the liver stage. Focused structure-activity studies on the dihydroquinazolinone scaffold revealed several molecules with excellent potency against both blood and liver stages. One promising early lead with dual activity is 2-(p-bromophenyl)-3-(2-(diethylamino)ethyl)-2,3-dihydroquinazolin-4(1H)-one with 50% effective concentrations (EC50s) of 0.46 μM and 0.34 μM against liver stage Plasmodium berghei ANKA and blood stage Plasmodium falciparum 3D7 parasites, respectively. Structure-activity relationships revealed that liver stage activity for this compound class requires a 3-dialkyl amino ethyl group and is abolished by substitution at the ortho-position of the phenyl moiety. These compounds have minimal toxicity to mammalian cells and are thus attractive compounds for further development.
PMCID: PMC3957893  PMID: 24366746
5.  Synthesis and evaluation of methylsulfonylnitrobenzamides (MSNBAs) as inhibitors of the thyroid hormone receptor-coactivator interaction 
We previously identified the methylsulfonylnitrobenzoates (MSNBs) that block the interaction of the thyroid hormone receptor with its obligate transcriptional coactivators and prevent thyroid hormone signaling. As part of our lead optimization work we demonstrated that sulfonylnitrophenylthiazoles (SNPTs), which replace the ester linkage of MSNBs with a thiazole, also inhibited coactivator binding to TR. Here we report that replacement of the ester with an amide (methylsulfonylnitrobenzamides, MSNBA) also provides active TR antagonists.
PMCID: PMC3594046  PMID: 23414840
6.  The Discovery of Novel Antimalarial Compounds Enabled by QSAR-based Virtual Screening 
Quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) models have been developed for a dataset of 3133 compounds defined as either active or inactive against P. falciparum. Since the dataset was strongly biased towards inactive compounds, different sampling approaches were employed to balance the ratio of actives vs. inactives, and models were rigorously validated using both internal and external validation approaches. The balanced accuracy for assessing the antimalarial activities of 70 external compounds was between 87% and 100% depending on the approach used to balance the dataset. Virtual screening of the ChemBridge database using QSAR models identified 176 putative antimalarial compounds that were submitted for experimental validation, along with 42 putative inactives as negative controls. Twenty five (14.2%) computational hits were found to have antimalarial activities with minimal cytotoxicity to mammalian cells, while all 42 putative inactives were confirmed experimentally. Structural inspection of confirmed active hits revealed novel chemical scaffolds, which could be employed as starting points to discover novel antimalarial agents.
PMCID: PMC3644566  PMID: 23252936
Antimalarial activity; quantitative structure–activity relationships; virtual screening; experimental confirmation
7.  Synthesis and evaluation of 7-substituted 4-aminoquinoline analogs for antimalarial activity 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(20):7084-7093.
We previously reported that substituted 4-aminoquinolines with a phenylether substituent at the 7-position of the quinoline ring and the capability of intramolecular hydrogen bonding between the protonated amine on the side chain and a hydrogen bond acceptor on the amine’s alkyl substituents exhibited potent antimalarial activity against the multi-drug resistant strain P. falciparum W2. We employed a parallel synthetic method to generate diaryl ether, biaryl, and alkylaryl 4-aminoquinoline analogs, in the background of a limited number of side chain variations that had previously afforded potent 4-aminoquinolines. All subsets were evaluated for their antimalarial activity against the chloroquine-sensitive strain 3D7 and the chloroquine-resistant K1 and cytotoxicity mammalian cell lines. While all three arrays showed good antimalarial activity, only the biaryl-containing subset showed consistently good potency against the drug-resistant K1strain good selectivity with regard to mammalian cytotoxicity. Overall, our data indicate that the biaryl-containing series contains promising candidates for further study.
PMCID: PMC3697074  PMID: 21910466
8.  Synthesis and evaluation of sulfonylnitrophenylthiazoles (SNPT's) as thyroid hormone receptor-coactivator interaction inhibitors 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(5):2301-2310.
We previously identified a series of methylsulfonylnitrobenzoates (MSNB's) that block the interaction of the thyroid hormone receptor with its coactivators. MSNB's inhibits coactivator binding through irreversibly modifying cysteine 298 of thyroid hormone receptor (TR). Although MSNB's have better pharmacological features than our first generation inhibitors (β-aminoketones) they contain a potentially unstable ester linkage. Here we report the bioisosteric replacement of the ester linkage with a thiazole moiety, yielding sulfonylnitrophenylthiazoles (SNPT's). An array of SNPT's representing optimal side chains from the MSNB series was constructed using parallel chemistry and evaluated to test their antagonism of the TR-coactivator interaction. Selected active compounds were evaluated in secondary confirmatory assays including regulation of thyroid response element driven transcription in reporter constructs and native genes. In addition the selected SNPT's shown to be selective for TR relative to other nuclear hormone receptor (NR).
PMCID: PMC3308170  PMID: 22324546
9.  Optimization of Propafenone Analogues as Anti-Malarial Leads 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(21):7477-7485.
Propafenone, a class Ic antiarrythmic drug, inhibits growth of cultured Plasmodium falciparum. While the drug’s potency is significant, further development of propafenone as an antimalarial would require divorcing the antimalarial and cardiac activities as well as improving the pharmacokinetic profile of the drug. A small array of propafenone analogs was designed and synthesized to address the cardiac ion channel and PK liabilities. Testing of this array revealed potent inhibitors of the 3D7 (drug sensitive) and K1 (drug resistant) strains of P. falciparum that possessed significantly reduced ion channel effects and improved metabolic stability. Propafenone analogues are unusual among antimalarial leads in that they are more potent against the multi-drug resistant K1 strain of P. falciparum compared to the 3D7 strain.
PMCID: PMC3208124  PMID: 21955244
propafenone; malaria; microwave epoxide ring opening; hERG
10.  Amide Conjugates of Ketoprofen and Indole as Inhibitors of Gli1-Mediated Transcription in the Hedgehog Pathway 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2010;18(13):4801-4811.
We have previously reported small-molecule inhibitors of Gli1-mediated transcription, an essential down-stream element of the Hh pathway. We created new derivatives of the previous compounds aiming to improve the druggable property. The new compounds, amide conjugates of ketoprofen and indole, showed inhibitory activity and membrane permeability, while also improving the microsome stability. Among them, 33 and 42 inhibited Gli-luciferase reporter in C3H10T1/2 cells that were exogenously transfected with Gli1 with 2.6 µM and 1.6 µM of IC50 respectively, and in Rh30 cells that endogenously overexpress Gli1, and was selective to Gli1 over Gli2.
PMCID: PMC2952073  PMID: 20605720
11.  Synthesis and Structure-Activity Relationships of Antimalarial 4-oxo-3-carboxyl quinolones 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2010;18(7):2756-2766.
Malaria is endemic in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The increasing prevalence of multi-drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum drives the ongoing need for the development of new antimalarial drugs. In this light, novel scaffolds to which the parasite has not been exposed are of particular interest. Recently, workers at the Swiss Tropical Institute discovered two novel 4-oxo-3-carboxyl quinolones active against the intra-erythrocytic stages of P. falciparum while carrying out rationally directed low-throughput screening of potential antimalarial agents as part of an effort directed by the World Health Organization. Here we report the design, synthesis, and preliminary pharmacologic characterization of a series of analogues of 4-oxo-3-carboxyl quinolones. These studies indicate that the series has good potential for preclinical development.
PMCID: PMC2850272  PMID: 20206533
12.  Structure-Activity Relationships and Cancer-Cell Selective Toxicity of Novel Inhibitors of Glioma-Associated Oncogene Homolog 1 (Gli1)-Mediated Transcription 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(14):4277-4287.
We report novel inhibitors of Gli1-mediated transcription as potential anticancer agents. Focused chemical libraries were designed and assessed for inhibition of functional cell-based Gli1-mediated transcription and selective toxicity toward cancer cells. The SAR was revealed and the selectivity of the lead compounds’ inhibition of Gli1-mediated transcription over that of Gli2 was determined. Compound 63 (NMDA298-1), which inhibited Gli1-mediated transcription in C3H10T1/2 cells with an IC50 of 6.9 µM, showed 3-fold selectivity for inhibiting transcription mediated by Gli1 over that by Gli2. Cell-viability assays were performed to evaluate the chemical library in a normal cell line and a panel of cancer cell lines with or without upregulated expression of the Gli1 gene. These compounds decreased the viability of several cancer cell lines but were less active in that of noncancerous BJ-hTERT cells.
PMCID: PMC2853048  PMID: 19545120
anticancer; Sonic Hedgehog; Gli; benzophenone

Results 1-12 (12)