Searching for new antimalarial therapeutics amongst known drugs

Jennifer L. Weisman, Ally P. Liou, Anang A. Shelat, Fred E. Cohen, R. Kiplin Guy, Joseph L. DeRisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


The need to discover and develop new antimalarial therapeutics is overwhelming. The annual mortality attributed to malaria, currently approximately 2.5 million, is increasing due primarily to widespread resistance to currently used drugs. One strategy to identify new treatment alternatives for malaria is to examine libraries of diverse compounds for the possible identification of novel scaffolds. Beginning with libraries of drug or drug-like compounds is an ideal starting point because, in the case of approved drugs, substantial pharmacokinetic and toxicologic data should be available for each compound series. We have employed a high-throughput screen of the MicroSource Spectrum and Killer Collections, a library of known drugs, bioactive compounds, and natural products. Our screening assay identifies compounds that inhibit growth of Plasmodium falciparum cultured in human erythrocytes. We have identified 36 novel inhibitors of P. falciparum, of which 19 are therapeutics, and five of these drugs exhibit effective 50% inhibitory concentrations within similar ranges to therapeutic serum concentrations for their recently indicated uses: propafenone, thioridazine, chlorprothixene, perhexiline, and azlocillin. The findings we report here indicate that this is an effective strategy to identify novel scaffolds and therefore aid in antimalarial drug discovery efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-416
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Biology and Drug Design
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Biologic screening
  • Drug discovery
  • Malaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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