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by Keyword: Antimalarial drugs

Bouzon-Arnaiz, I, Avalos-Padilla, Y, Biosca, A, Cano-Prades, O, Roman-Alamo, L, Valle, J, Andreu, D, Moita, D, Prudencio, M, Arce, EM, Munoz-Torrero, D, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2022). The protein aggregation inhibitor YAT2150 has potent antimalarial activity in Plasmodium falciparum in vitro cultures Bmc Biology 20, 197

Background By 2016, signs of emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin and partner drugs were detected in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Recently, the independent evolution of artemisinin resistance has also been reported in Africa and South America. This alarming scenario calls for the urgent development of new antimalarials with novel modes of action. We investigated the interference with protein aggregation, which is potentially toxic for the cell and occurs abundantly in all Plasmodium stages, as a hitherto unexplored drug target in the pathogen. Results Attempts to exacerbate the P. falciparum proteome's propensity to aggregation by delivering endogenous aggregative peptides to in vitro cultures of this parasite did not significantly affect their growth. In contrast, protein aggregation inhibitors clearly reduced the pathogen's viability. One such compound, the bis(styrylpyridinium) salt YAT2150, exhibited potent antiplasmodial activity with an in vitro IC50 of 90 nM for chloroquine- and artemisinin-resistant lines, arresting asexual blood parasites at the trophozoite stage, as well as interfering with the development of both sexual and hepatic forms of Plasmodium. At its IC50, this compound is a powerful inhibitor of the aggregation of the model amyloid beta peptide fragment 1-40, and it reduces the amount of aggregated proteins in P. falciparum cultures, suggesting that the underlying antimalarial mechanism consists in a generalized impairment of proteostasis in the pathogen. YAT2150 has an easy, rapid, and inexpensive synthesis, and because it fluoresces when it accumulates in its main localization in the Plasmodium cytosol, it is a theranostic agent. Conclusions Inhibiting protein aggregation in Plasmodium significantly reduces the parasite's viability in vitro. Since YAT2150 belongs to a novel structural class of antiplasmodials with a mode of action that potentially targets multiple gene products, rapid evolution of resistance to this drug is unlikely to occur, making it a promising compound for the post-artemisinin era.

JTD Keywords: Amyloid formation, Amyloid pan-inhibitors, Antimalarial drugs, Colocalization, Cytosolic delivery, Derivatives, Disease, Drug, In-vitro, Malaria, Mechanism, Plasmodium falciparum, Polyglutamine, Protein aggregation, Yat2150


Biosca, A, Ramirez, M, Gomez-Gomez, A, Lafuente, A, Iglesias, V, Pozo, OJ, Imperial, S, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2022). Characterization of Domiphen Bromide as a New Fast-Acting Antiplasmodial Agent Inhibiting the Apicoplastidic Methyl Erythritol Phosphate Pathway Pharmaceutics 14, 1320

The evolution of resistance by the malaria parasite to artemisinin, the key component of the combination therapy strategies that are at the core of current antimalarial treatments, calls for the urgent identification of new fast-acting antimalarials. The apicoplast organelle is a preferred target of antimalarial drugs because it contains biochemical processes absent from the human host. Fosmidomycin is the only drug in clinical trials targeting the apicoplast, where it inhibits the methyl erythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here, we characterized the antiplasmodial activity of domiphen bromide (DB), another MEP pathway inhibitor with a rapid mode of action that arrests the in vitro growth of Plasmodium falciparum at the early trophozoite stage. Metabolomic analysis of the MEP pathway and Krebs cycle intermediates in 20 mu M DB-treated parasites suggested a rapid activation of glycolysis with a concomitant decrease in mitochondrial activity, consistent with a rapid killing of the pathogen. These results present DB as a model compound for the development of new, potentially interesting drugs for future antimalarial combination therapies.

JTD Keywords: Antibiotics, Antimalarial drugs, Antimalarial-drug, Artemisinin, Combination therapies, Domiphen bromide, Intraerythrocytic stages, Isoprenoid biosynthesis, Malaria, Methyl erythritol phosphate pathway, Nonmevalonate pathway, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium-falciparum apicoplast, Red-blood-cells, Targeted delivery


Guasch-Girbau A, Fernàndez-Busquets X, (2021). Review of the current landscape of the potential of nanotechnology for future malaria diagnosis, treatment, and vaccination strategies Pharmaceutics 13,

Malaria eradication has for decades been on the global health agenda, but the causative agents of the disease, several species of the protist parasite Plasmodium, have evolved mechanisms to evade vaccine-induced immunity and to rapidly acquire resistance against all drugs entering clinical use. Because classical antimalarial approaches have consistently failed, new strategies must be explored. One of these is nanomedicine, the application of manipulation and fabrication technology in the range of molecular dimensions between 1 and 100 nm, to the development of new medical solutions. Here we review the current state of the art in malaria diagnosis, prevention, and therapy and how nanotechnology is already having an incipient impact in improving them. In the second half of this review, the next generation of antimalarial drugs currently in the clinical pipeline is presented, with a definition of these drugs’ target product profiles and an assessment of the potential role of nanotechnology in their development. Opinions extracted from interviews with experts in the fields of nanomedicine, clinical malaria, and the economic landscape of the disease are included to offer a wider scope of the current requirements to win the fight against malaria and of how nanoscience can contribute to achieve them. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: antibody-bearing liposomes, antimalarial drugs, combination therapies, drug-delivery strategies, malaria diagnosis, malaria prophylaxis, malaria therapy, nanocarriers, nanomedicine, nanoparticles, nanotechnology, plasmodium, plasmodium-falciparum, red-blood-cells, targeted delivery, targeted drug delivery, vitro antimalarial activity, Antimalarial drugs, Isothermal amplification lamp, Malaria diagnosis, Malaria prophylaxis, Malaria therapy, Nanocarriers, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Borgheti-Cardoso, L. N., Kooijmans, S. A. A., Gutiérrez Chamorro, L., Biosca, A., Lantero, E., Ramírez, M., Avalos-Padilla, Y., Crespo, I., Fernández, I., Fernandez-Becerra, C., del Portillo, H. A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2020). Extracellular vesicles derived from Plasmodium-infected and non-infected red blood cells as targeted drug delivery vehicles International Journal of Pharmaceutics 587, 119627

Among several factors behind drug resistance evolution in malaria is the challenge of administering overall doses that are not toxic for the patient but that, locally, are sufficiently high to rapidly kill the parasites. Thus, a crucial antimalarial strategy is the development of drug delivery systems capable of targeting antimalarial compounds to Plasmodium with high specificity. In the present study, extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been evaluated as a drug delivery system for the treatment of malaria. EVs derived from naive red blood cells (RBCs) and from Plasmodium falciparum-infected RBCs (pRBCs) were isolated by ultrafiltration followed by size exclusion chromatography. Lipidomic characterization showed that there were no significant qualitative differences between the lipidomic profiles of pRBC-derived EVs (pRBC-EVs) and RBC-derived EVs (RBC-EVs). Both EVs were taken up by RBCs and pRBCs, although pRBC-EVs were more efficiently internalized than RBC-EVs, which suggested their potential use as drug delivery vehicles for these cells. When loaded into pRBC-EVs, the antimalarial drugs atovaquone and tafenoquine inhibited in vitro P. falciparum growth more efficiently than their free drug counterparts, indicating that pRBC-EVs can potentially increase the efficacy of several small hydrophobic drugs used for the treatment of malaria.

JTD Keywords: Antimalarial drugs, Drug delivery, Extracellular vesicles, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum


Lantero, E., Fernandes, J., Aláez-Versón, C. R., Gomes, J., Silveira, H., Nogueira, F., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2020). Heparin administered to anopheles in membrane feeding assays blocks plasmodium development in the mosquito Biomolecules 10, (8), 1136

Innovative antimalarial strategies are urgently needed given the alarming evolution of resistance to every single drug developed against Plasmodium parasites. The sulfated glycosaminoglycan heparin has been delivered in membrane feeding assays together with Plasmodium berghei-infected blood to Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. The transition between ookinete and oocyst pathogen stages in the mosquito has been studied in vivo through oocyst counting in dissected insect midguts, whereas ookinete interactions with heparin have been followed ex vivo by flow cytometry. Heparin interferes with the parasite’s ookinete–oocyst transition by binding ookinetes, but it does not affect fertilization. Hypersulfated heparin is a more efficient blocker of ookinete development than native heparin, significantly reducing the number of oocysts per midgut when offered to mosquitoes at 5 µg/mL in membrane feeding assays. Direct delivery of heparin to mosquitoes might represent a new antimalarial strategy of rapid implementation, since it would not require clinical trials for its immediate deployment.

JTD Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Heparin, Malaria, Mosquito, Ookinete, Plasmodium, Transmission blocking


Martí Coma-Cros, E., Biosca, A., Marques, J., Carol, L., Urbán, P., Berenguer, D., Riera, M. C., Delves, M., Sinden, R. E., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Spanos, L., Siden-Kiamos, I., Pérez, P., Paaijmans, K., Rottmann, M., Manfredi, A., Ferruti, P., Ranucci, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2018). Polyamidoamine nanoparticles for the oral administration of antimalarial drugs Pharmaceutics 10, (4), 225

Current strategies for the mass administration of antimalarial drugs demand oral formulations to target the asexual Plasmodium stages in the peripheral bloodstream, whereas recommendations for future interventions stress the importance of also targeting the transmission stages of the parasite as it passes between humans and mosquitoes. Orally administered polyamidoamine (PAA) nanoparticles conjugated to chloroquine reached the blood circulation and cured Plasmodium yoelii-infected mice, slightly improving the activity of the free drug and inducing in the animals immunity against malaria. Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry analysis of affinity chromatography-purified PAA ligands suggested a high adhesiveness of PAAs to Plasmodium falciparum proteins, which might be the mechanism responsible for the preferential binding of PAAs to Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes vs. non-infected red blood cells. The weak antimalarial activity of some PAAs was found to operate through inhibition of parasite invasion, whereas the observed polymer intake by macrophages indicated a potential of PAAs for the treatment of certain coinfections such as Plasmodium and Leishmania. When fluorescein-labeled PAAs were fed to females of the malaria mosquito vectors Anopheles atroparvus and Anopheles gambiae, persistent fluorescence was observed in the midgut and in other insect’s tissues. These results present PAAs as a versatile platform for the encapsulation of orally administered antimalarial drugs and for direct administration of antimalarials to mosquitoes, targeting mosquito stages of Plasmodium.

JTD Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Malaria, Mosquitoes, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Polyamidoamines, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Aláez-Versón, C. R., Lantero, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2017). Heparin: New life for an old drug Nanomedicine 12, (14), 1727-1744

Heparin is one of the oldest drugs, which nevertheless remains in widespread clinical use as an inhibitor of blood coagulation. The history of its identification a century ago unfolded amid one of the most fascinating scientific controversies turning around the distribution of credit for its discovery. The composition, purification and structure-function relationship of this naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan regarding its classical role as anticoagulant will be dealt with before proceeding to discuss its therapeutic potential in, among other, inflammatory and infectious disease, cancer treatment, cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer's disease. The first bibliographic reference hit using the words 'nanomedicine' and 'heparin' is as recent as 2008. Since then, nanomedical applications of heparin have experienced an exponential growth that will be discussed in detail, with particular emphasis on its antimalarial activity. Some of the most intriguing potential applications of heparin nanomedicines will be exposed, such as those contemplating the delivery of drugs to the mosquito stages of malaria parasites.

JTD Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Heparin, Malaria, Mosquitoes, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2016). Novel strategies for Plasmodium-targeted drug delivery Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery , 13, (7), 919-922