PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (2020-08-01)

An iterative process produces oxamniquine derivatives that kill the major species of schistosomes infecting humans.

  • Meghan A Guzman,
  • Anastasia R Rugel,
  • Reid S Tarpley,
  • Sevan N Alwan,
  • Frédéric D Chevalier,
  • Dmytro P Kovalskyy,
  • Xiaohang Cao,
  • Stephen P Holloway,
  • Timothy J C Anderson,
  • Alexander B Taylor,
  • Stanton F McHardy,
  • Philip T LoVerde

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 8
p. e0008517


Read online

Currently there is only one method of treatment for human schistosomiasis, the drug praziquantel. Strong selective pressure has caused a serious concern for a rise in resistance to praziquantel leading to the necessity for additional pharmaceuticals, with a distinctly different mechanism of action, to be used in combination therapy with praziquantel. Previous treatment of Schistosoma mansoni included the use of oxamniquine (OXA), a prodrug that is enzymatically activated in S. mansoni but is ineffective against S. haematobium and S. japonicum. The oxamniquine activating enzyme was identified as a S. mansoni sulfotransferase (SmSULT-OR). Structural data have allowed for directed drug development in reengineering oxamniquine to be effective against S. haematobium and S. japonicum. Guided by data from X-ray crystallographic studies and Schistosoma worm killing assays on oxamniquine, our structure-based drug design approach produced a robust SAR program that tested over 300 derivatives and identified several new lead compounds with effective worm killing in vitro. Previous studies resulted in the discovery of compound CIDD-0066790, which demonstrated broad-species activity in killing of schistosome species. As these compounds are racemic mixtures, we tested and demonstrate that the R enantiomer CIDD-007229 kills S. mansoni, S. haematobium and S. japonicum better than the parent drug (CIDD-0066790). The search for derivatives that kill better than CIDD-0066790 has resulted in a derivative (CIDD- 149830) that kills 100% of S. mansoni, S. haematobium and S. japonicum adult worms within 7 days. We hypothesize that the difference in activation and thus killing by the derivatives is due to the ability of the derivative to fit in the binding pocket of each sulfotransferase (SmSULT-OR, ShSULT-OR, SjSULT-OR) and to be efficiently sulfated. The purpose of this research is to develop a second drug to be used in conjunction with praziquantel to treat the major human species of Schistosoma. Collectively, our findings show that CIDD-00149830 and CIDD-0072229 are promising novel drugs for the treatment of human schistosomiasis and strongly support further development and in vivo testing.