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Preclinical Studies In Anti-Trypanosomatidae Drug Development

Cintya Perdomo, Elena Aguilera, Ileana Corvo, Paula Faral-Tello, Elva Serna, Carlos Robello, Shane R. Wilkinson, Gloria Yaluff, Guzmán Alvarez

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The trypanosomatid parasites Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania are the causative agents of human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas Disease and Leishmaniasis, respectively. These infections primarily affect poor, rural communities in the developing world, and are responsible for trapping sufferers and their families in a disease/poverty cycle. The development of new chemotherapies is a priority given that existing drug treatments are problematic. In our search for novel anti-trypanosomatid agents, we assess the growth-inhibitory properties of >450 compounds from in-house and/or “Pathogen Box” (PBox) libraries against L. infantum, L. amazonensis, L.braziliensis, T. cruzi and T. brucei and evaluate the toxicities of the most promising agents towards murine macrophages. Screens using the in-house series identified 17 structures with activity against and selective toward Leishmania: Compounds displayed 50% inhibitory concentrations between 0.09 and 25 μM and had selectivity index values >10. For the PBox library, ~20% of chemicals exhibited anti-parasitic properties including five structures whose activity against L. infantum had not been reported before. These five compounds displayed no toxicity towards murine macrophages over the range tested with three being active in an in vivo murine model of the cutaneous disease, with 100% survival of infected animals. Additionally, the oral combination of three of them in the in vivo Chagas disease murine model demonstrated full control of the parasitemia. Interestingly, phenotyping revealed that the reference strain responds differently to the five PBox-derived chemicals relative to parasites isolated from a dog. Together, our data identified one drug candidate that displays activity against Leishmania and other Trypanosomatidae in vitro and in vivo, while exhibiting low toxicity to cultured mammalian cells and low in vivo acute toxicity.