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Discovery of a benzothiophene-flavonol halting miltefosine and antimonial drug resistance in Leishmania parasites through the application of medicinal chemistry, screening and genomics

: Borsari, C.; Jiménez-Antón, M.D.; Eick, J.; Bifeld, E.; Torrado, J.J.; Olías-Molero, A.I.; Corral, M.J.; Santarem, N.; Baptista, C.; Severi, L.; Gul, S.; Wolf, M.; Kuzikov, M.; Ellinger, B.; Reinshagen, J.; Witt, G.; Linciano, P.; Tait, A.; Costantino, L.; Luciani, R.; Tejera Nevado, P.; Zander-Dinse, D.; Franco, C.H.; Ferrari, S.; Moraes, C.B.; Cordeiro-da-Silva, A.; Ponterini, G.; Clos, J.; Alunda, J.M.; Costi, M.P.


European journal of medicinal chemistry 183 (2019), Art. 111676
ISSN: 0009-4374
ISSN: 0223-5234
ISSN: 1768-3254
Fraunhofer IME ()

Leishmaniasis, a major health problem worldwide, has a limited arsenal of drugs for its control. The appearance of resistance to first- and second-line anti-leishmanial drugs confirms the need to develop new and less toxic drugs that overcome spontaneous resistance. In the present study, we report the design and synthesis of a novel library of 38 flavonol-like compounds and their evaluation in a panel of assays encompassing parasite killing, pharmacokinetics, genomics and ADME-Toxicity resulting in the progression of a compound in the drug discovery value chain. Compound 19, 2-(benzo[b]thiophen-3-yl)-3-hydroxy-6-methoxy-4H-chromen-4-one, exhibited a broad-spectrum activity against Leishmania spp. (EC50 1.9 μM for Leishmania infantum, 3.4 μM for L. donovani, 6.7 μM for L. major), Trypanosoma cruzi (EC50 7.5 μM) and T. brucei (EC50 0.8 μM). Focusing on anti-Leishmania activity, compound 19 challenge in vitro did not select for resistance markers in L. donovani, while a Cos-Seq screening for dominant resistance genes identified a gene locus on chromosome 36 that became ineffective at concentrations beyond EC50. Thus, compound 19 is a promising scaffold to tackle drug resistance in Leishmania infection. In vivo pharmacokinetic studies indicated that compound 19 has a long half-life (intravenous (IV): 63.2 h; per os (PO): 46.9 h) with an acceptable ADME-Toxicity profile. When tested in Leishmania infected hamsters, no toxicity and limited efficacy were observed. Low solubility and degradation were investigated spectroscopically as possible causes for the sub-optimal pharmacokinetic properties. Compound 19 resulted a specific compound based on the screening against a protein set, following the intrinsic fluorescence changes.