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1.  Identification and Optimization of an Aminoalcohol-Carbazole Series with Antimalarial Properties 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2013;4(11):1037-1041.
Recent observations on the emergence of artemisinin resistant parasites have highlighted the need for new antimalarial treatments. An HTS campaign led to the identification of the 1-(1-aminopropan-2-ol)carbazole analogues as potent hits against Plasmodium falciparum K1 strain. The SAR study and optimization of early ADME and physicochemical properties direct us to the selection of a late lead compound that shows good efficacy when orally administrated in the in vivo P. berghei mouse model.
PMCID: PMC4027556  PMID: 24900603
Malaria; WHO; SAR; carbazole; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium berghei; IC50; hERG
2.  Analysis of pan-African Centres of excellence in health innovation highlights opportunities and challenges for local innovation and financing in the continent 
A pool of 38 pan-African Centres of Excellence (CoEs) in health innovation has been selected and recognized by the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI), through a competitive criteria based process. The process identified a number of opportunities and challenges for health R&D and innovation in the continent: i) it provides a direct evidence for the existence of innovation capability that can be leveraged to fill specific gaps in the continent; ii) it revealed a research and financing pattern that is largely fragmented and uncoordinated, and iii) it highlights the most frequent funders of health research in the continent. The CoEs are envisioned as an innovative network of public and private institutions with a critical mass of expertise and resources to support projects and a variety of activities for capacity building and scientific exchange, including hosting fellows, trainees, scientists on sabbaticals and exchange with other African and non-African institutions.
PMCID: PMC3492037  PMID: 22838941
3.  Integrated Dataset of Screening Hits against Multiple Neglected Disease Pathogens 
New chemical entities are desperately needed that overcome the limitations of existing drugs for neglected diseases. Screening a diverse library of 10,000 drug-like compounds against 7 neglected disease pathogens resulted in an integrated dataset of 744 hits. We discuss the prioritization of these hits for each pathogen and the strong correlation observed between compounds active against more than two pathogens and mammalian cell toxicity. Our work suggests that the efficiency of early drug discovery for neglected diseases can be enhanced through a collaborative, multi-pathogen approach.
Author Summary
The search for new drugs for human neglected diseases accelerated in the past decade, based on the recognition that addressing these infections was necessary for global poverty reduction. The expansion of discovery and development programmes was supported by donor investment, increasing participation of the industry and the creation of Product Development Partnership (PDP) enterprises. Despite these efforts, major discovery gaps remain as, apart from some repurposed drugs and a few new molecules for malaria, no new candidate has been recently transitioned from discovery into development for the major Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). In this publication, we present a collaborative network model for drug discovery based on coordinated North-South partnerships. This network carried out low-to-medium throughput whole-organism screening assays against seven NTDs (malaria, leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis [HAT], Chagas' disease, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis) together with an early assessment of compound toxicity in mammalian cells. We describe a screening campaign of 10,000 molecules, its outcome and the implications of this strategy for enhancing the efficiency and productivity of drug discovery for NTDs.
PMCID: PMC3243694  PMID: 22247786
4.  Genomic-scale prioritization of drug targets: the TDR Targets database 
Nature reviews. Drug discovery  2008;7(11):900-907.
The increasing availability of genomic data for pathogens that cause tropical diseases has created new opportunities for drug discovery and development. However, if the potential of such data is to be fully exploited, the data must be effectively integrated and be easy to interrogate. Here, we discuss the development of the database (, which encompasses extensive genetic, biochemical and pharmacological data related to tropical disease pathogens, as well as computationally predicted druggability for potential targets and compound desirability information. By allowing the integration and weighting of this information, this database aims to facilitate the identification and prioritisation of candidate drug targets for pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3184002  PMID: 18927591
5.  Innovative Partnerships for Drug Discovery against Neglected Diseases 
PMCID: PMC3181237  PMID: 21980540
6.  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
7.  Traditional medicines as a mechanism for driving research innovation in Africa 
Malaria Journal  2011;10(Suppl 1):S9.
The outcomes from recent high profile deliberations concerning African health research and economic development all point towards the need for a mechanism to support health innovation on the continent. The mission of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI), is to promote and sustain African-led health product innovation to address African public health needs through the assembly of research networks, and building of capacity to support human and economic development. ANDI is widely viewed as the vehicle to implementing some of these recommendations. There is tremendous opportunity for Africa, to leverage the expertise in natural products and traditional medicines in support of this objective to kick-start innovation. This report highlights key recommendations that have emerged through expert forums convened by ANDI on the challenges, opportunities and prospects for investing in this important area of research.
PMCID: PMC3059467  PMID: 21411020
8.  Identification of Attractive Drug Targets in Neglected-Disease Pathogens Using an In Silico Approach 
The increased sequencing of pathogen genomes and the subsequent availability of genome-scale functional datasets are expected to guide the experimental work necessary for target-based drug discovery. However, a major bottleneck in this has been the difficulty of capturing and integrating relevant information in an easily accessible format for identifying and prioritizing potential targets. The open-access resource facilitates drug target prioritization for major tropical disease pathogens such as the mycobacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium tuberculosis; the kinetoplastid protozoans Leishmania major, Trypanosoma brucei, and Trypanosoma cruzi; the apicomplexan protozoans Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, and Toxoplasma gondii; and the helminths Brugia malayi and Schistosoma mansoni.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we present strategies to prioritize pathogen proteins based on whether their properties meet criteria considered desirable in a drug target. These criteria are based upon both sequence-derived information (e.g., molecular mass) and functional data on expression, essentiality, phenotypes, metabolic pathways, assayability, and druggability. This approach also highlights the fact that data for many relevant criteria are lacking in less-studied pathogens (e.g., helminths), and we demonstrate how this can be partially overcome by mapping data from homologous genes in well-studied organisms. We also show how individual users can easily upload external datasets and integrate them with existing data in to generate highly customized ranked lists of potential targets.
Using the datasets and the tools available in, we have generated illustrative lists of potential drug targets in seven tropical disease pathogens. While these lists are broadly consistent with the research community's current interest in certain specific proteins, and suggest novel target candidates that may merit further study, the lists can easily be modified in a user-specific manner, either by adjusting the weights for chosen criteria or by changing the criteria that are included.
Author Summary
In cell-based drug development, researchers attempt to create drugs that kill a pathogen without necessarily understanding the details of how the drugs work. In contrast, target-based drug development entails the search for compounds that act on a specific intracellular target—often a protein known or suspected to be required for survival of the pathogen. The latter approach to drug development has been facilitated greatly by the sequencing of many pathogen genomes and the incorporation of genome data into user-friendly databases. The present paper shows how the database can identify proteins that might be considered good drug targets for diseases such as African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, parasitic worm infections, tuberculosis, and malaria. These proteins may score highly in searches of the database because they are dissimilar to human proteins, are structurally similar to other “druggable” proteins, have functions that are easy to measure, and/or fulfill other criteria. Researchers can use the lists of high-scoring proteins as a basis for deciding which potential drug targets to pursue experimentally.
PMCID: PMC2927427  PMID: 20808766
9.  CRIMALDDI: a co-ordinated, rational, and integrated effort to set logical priorities in anti-malarial drug discovery initiatives 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:202.
Despite increasing efforts and support for anti-malarial drug R&D, globally anti-malarial drug discovery and development remains largely uncoordinated and fragmented. The current window of opportunity for large scale funding of R&D into malaria is likely to narrow in the coming decade due to a contraction in available resources caused by the current economic difficulties and new priorities (e.g. climate change). It is, therefore, essential that stakeholders are given well-articulated action plans and priorities to guide judgments on where resources can be best targeted.
The CRIMALDDI Consortium (a European Union funded initiative) has been set up to develop, through a process of stakeholder and expert consultations, such priorities and recommendations to address them. It is hoped that the recommendations will help to guide the priorities of the European anti-malarial research as well as the wider global discovery agenda in the coming decade.
PMCID: PMC2914065  PMID: 20626844
10.  Developing ANDI: A Novel Approach to Health Product R&D in Africa 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(6):e1000293.
Solomon Nwaka and colleagues discuss ANDI, the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation, which is intended to help stimulate health research and development on the African continent.
PMCID: PMC2893959  PMID: 20613865
11.  Advancing Drug Innovation for Neglected Diseases—Criteria for Lead Progression 
The current drug R&D pipeline for most neglected diseases remains weak, and unlikely to support registration of novel drug classes that meet desired target product profiles in the short term. This calls for sustained investment as well as greater emphasis in the risky upstream drug discovery. Access to technologies, resources, and strong management as well as clear compound progression criteria are factors in the successful implementation of any collaborative drug discovery effort. We discuss how some of these factors have impacted drug discovery for tropical diseases within the past four decades, and highlight new opportunities and challenges through the virtual North–South drug discovery network as well as the rationale for greater participation of institutions in developing countries in product innovation. A set of criteria designed to facilitate compound progression from screening hits to drug candidate selection is presented to guide ongoing efforts.
PMCID: PMC2727960  PMID: 19707561
12.  Evidence for Contribution of Neutral Trehalase in Barotolerance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2000;66(12):5182-5185.
In yeast, trehalose accumulation and its hydrolysis, which is catalyzed by neutral trehalase, are believed to be important for thermotolerance. We have shown that trehalose is one of the important factors for barotolerance (resistance to hydrostatic pressure); however, nothing is known about the role of neutral trehalase in barotolerance. To estimate the contribution of neutral trehalase in resisting high hydrostatic pressure, we measured the barotolerance of neutral trehalase I and/or neutral trehalase II deletion strains. Under 180 MPa of pressure for 2 h, the neutral trehalase I deletion strain showed higher barotolerance in logarithmic-phase cells and lower barotolerance in stationary-phase cells than the wild-type strain. Introduction of the neutral trehalase I gene (NTH1) into the deletion mutant restored barotolerance defects in stationary-phase cells. Furthermore, we assessed the contribution of neutral trehalase during pressure and recovery conditions by varying the expression of NTH1 or neutral trehalase activity with a galactose-inducible GAL1 promoter with either glucose or galactose. The low barotolerance observed with glucose repression of neutral trehalase from the GAL1 promoter was restored during recovery with galactose induction. Our results suggest that neutral trehalase contributes to barotolerance, especially during recovery.
PMCID: PMC92441  PMID: 11097887
13.  Evidence for the Interplay between Trehalose Metabolism and Hsp104 in Yeast 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1998;64(11):4614-4617.
Disruption of the HSP104 gene in a mutant which cannot accumulate trehalose during heat shock treatment caused trehalose accumulation (H. Iwahashi, K. Obuchi, S. Fujii, and Y. Komatsu, Lett. Appl. Microbiol 25:43–47, 1997). This implies that Hsp104 affects trehalose metabolism. Thus, we measured the activities of enzymes involved in trehalose metabolism. The activities of trehalose-synthesizing and -hydrolyzing enzymes are low in the HSP104 disruption mutant during heat shock. This data is correlated with intracellular trehalose and glucose levels observed in the HSP104 disruption mutant. These results suggest that during heat shock, Hsp104 contributes to the simultaneous increase in both accumulation and degradation of trehalose.
PMCID: PMC106695  PMID: 9797333

Results 1-13 (13)