82 research outputs found

    Need for a Standardized Translational Drug Development Platform: Lessons Learned from the Repurposing of Drugs for COVID-19

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    In the absence of drugs to treat or prevent COVID-19, drug repurposing can be a valuable strategy. Despite a substantial number of clinical trials, drug repurposing did not deliver on its promise. While success was observed with some repurposed drugs (e.g., remdesivir, dexamethasone, tocilizumab, baricitinib), others failed to show clinical efficacy. One reason is the lack of clear translational processes based on adequate preclinical profiling before clinical evaluation. Combined with limitations of existing in vitro and in vivo models, there is a need for a systematic approach to urgent antiviral drug development in the context of a global pandemic. We implemented a methodology to test repurposed and experimental drugs to generate robust preclinical evidence for further clinical development. This translational drug development platform comprises in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models of SARS-CoV-2, along with pharmacokinetic modeling and simulation approaches to evaluate exposure levels in plasma and target organs. Here, we provide examples of identified repurposed antiviral drugs tested within our multidisciplinary collaboration to highlight lessons learned in urgent antiviral drug development during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our data confirm the importance of assessing in vitro and in vivo potency in multiple assays to boost the translatability of pre-clinical data. The value of pharmacokinetic modeling and simulations for compound prioritization is also discussed. We advocate the need for a standardized translational drug development platform for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 to generate preclinical evidence in support of clinical trials. We propose clear prerequisites for progression of drug candidates for repurposing into clinical trials. Further research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of the scope and limitations of the presented translational drug development platform

    Novel benzoxaborole, nitroimidazole and aminopyrazoles with activity against experimental cutaneous leishmaniasis.

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    OBJECTIVES: Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) has identified three chemical lead series, the nitroimidazoles, benzoxaboroles and aminopyrazoles, as innovative treatments for visceral leishmaniasis. The leads discovered using phenotypic screening, were optimised following disease- and compound-specific criteria. Several leads of each series were progressed and preclinical drug candidates have been nominated. Here we evaluate the efficacy of the lead compounds of each of these three chemical classes in in vitro and in vivo models of cutaneous leishmaniasis. METHODS: The in vitro activity of fifty-five compounds was evaluated against the intracellular amastigotes of L. major, L. aethiopica, L. amazonensis, L. panamensis, L. mexicana and L. tropica. The drugs demonstrating potent activity (EC50 < 5 μM) against at least 4 of 6 species were subsequently evaluated in vivo in different L. major - BALB/c mouse models using a 5 or 10-day treatment with either the oral or topical formulations. Efficacy was expressed as lesion size (measured daily using callipers), parasite load (by quantitative PCR - DNA) and bioluminescence signal reduction relative to the untreated controls. RESULTS: The selected drug compounds (3 nitroimidazoles, 1 benzoxaborole and 3 aminopyrazoles) showed consistent and potent activity across a range of Leishmania species that are known to cause CL with EC50 values ranging from 0.29 to 18.3 μM. In all cases, this potent in vitro antileishmanial activity translated into high levels of efficacy with a linear dose-response against murine CL. When administered at 50 mg/kg/day, DNDI-0690 (nitroimidazole), DNDI-1047 (aminopyrazole) and DNDI-6148 (benzoxaborole) all resulted in a significant lesion size reduction (no visible nodule) and an approximate 2-log-fold reduction of the parasite load as measured by qPCR compared to the untreated control. CONCLUSIONS: The lead compounds DNDI-0690, DNDI-1047 and DNDI-6148 showed excellent activity across a range of Leishmania species in vitro and against L. major in mice. These compounds offer novel potential drugs for the treatment of CL

    Addressing the most neglected diseases through an open research model: The discovery of fenarimols as novel drug candidates for eumycetoma

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    Eumycetoma is a chronic infectious disease characterized by a large subcutaneous mass, often caused by the fungus Madurella mycetomatis. A combination of surgery and prolonged medication is needed to treat this infection with a success rate of only 30%. There is, the

    Addressing the most neglected diseases through an open research model: The discovery of fenarimols as novel drug candidates for eumycetoma

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    <div><p>Eumycetoma is a chronic infectious disease characterized by a large subcutaneous mass, often caused by the fungus <i>Madurella mycetomatis</i>. A combination of surgery and prolonged medication is needed to treat this infection with a success rate of only 30%. There is, therefore, an urgent need to find more effective drugs for the treatment of this disease. In this study, we screened 800 diverse drug-like molecules and identified 215 molecules that were active <i>in vitro</i>. Minimal inhibitory concentrations were determined for the 13 most active compounds. One of the most potent compounds, a fenarimol analogue for which a large analogue library is available, led to the screening of an additional 35 compounds for their <i>in vitro</i> activity against <i>M</i>. <i>mycetomatis</i> hyphae, rendering four further hit compounds. To assess the <i>in vivo</i> potency of these hit compounds, a <i>Galleria mellonella</i> larvae model infected with <i>M</i>. <i>mycetomatis</i> was used. Several of the compounds identified <i>in vitro</i> demonstrated promising efficacy <i>in vivo</i> in terms of prolonged larval survival and/or reduced fungal burden. The results presented in this paper are the starting point of an <i>Open Source Mycetoma (MycetOS)</i> approach in which members of the global scientific community are invited to participate and contribute as equal partners. We hope that this initiative, coupled with the promising new hits we have reported, will lead to progress in drug discovery for this most neglected of neglected tropical diseases.</p></div

    Flavonoid profiling among wild type and related GM wheat varieties

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    Pleiotropic effects are one of the main concerns regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This includes unintended side effects of the transgene or its genome insertion site on the regulation of other endogenous genes, which could potentially cause the accumulation of different secondary metabolites that may have not only an impact on diet as repeatedly worried by the public but also on the environment. Regarding amount and possible environmental effects, flavonoids represent the most prominent group of secondary metabolites in wheat. Many flavonoids function as signalling or defence molecules. We used a robust and reproducible analytical method to compare the flavonoid content of genetically modified (GM) wheat (Triticum aestivum L., Gramineae) expressing genes that confer increased fungal resistance with their non-GM siblings. The transgenes provide either a broad-spectrum fungal defence (chitinase/glucanase from barley) or bunt-specific resistance by a viral gene (KP4). Significant differences in flavonoid composition were found between different wheat varieties whereas different lines of GM wheat with increased antifungal resistance showed only minor differences in their flavonoid composition relative to their non-GM siblings. In a field test, no significant differences were detectable between infected and non-infected wheat of the same variety regardless of the presence of the transgene. Our results are in agreement with the hypothesis that the transgenes we used to increase wheat defence to fungal pathogens do not interfere with the flavonoid biosynthesis pathway. More significantly, the genetic background resulting from conventional breeding has a direct impact on the biological composition of flavonoids, and thus possibly on the environmen

    Addressing the most neglected diseases through an open research model: The discovery of fenarimols as novel drug candidates for eumycetoma - Fig 4

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    <p>A) 2-D Chemical space representation of the 800 member fenarimol analogue library. X -axis represents a Principal Component Analysis of approximately 100 different physichochemical properties, Y-axis represents a Principal Component Analysis of 1024 Morgan chemical fingerprints (all calculations performed using RDKit in KNIME)[<a href="http://www.plosntds.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006437#pntd.0006437.ref052" target="_blank">52</a>] Compounds chosen for test are represented by oversized points, and different core scaffolds represented by colour (Blue -scaffold A; green scaffold B, red scaffold C, yellow scaffold D). B: % Growth inhibition by selected fenarimol analogues at 25 and 100 ÎĽM. Percentage growth was calculated using the following formula: (E<sub>sample</sub>-E<sub>nc</sub>)/(E<sub>gc</sub>-E<sub>nc</sub>)*100%.</p

    Development and Validation of a Novel Leishmania donovani Screening Cascade for High-Throughput Screening Using a Novel Axenic Assay with High Predictivity of Leishmanicidal Intracellular Activity

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    Visceral leishmaniasis is an important parasitic disease of the developing world with a limited arsenal of drugs available for treatment. The existing drugs have significant deficiencies so there is an urgent need for new and improved drugs. In the human host, Leishmania are obligate intracellular parasites which poses particular challenges in terms of drug discovery. To achieve sufficient throughput and robustness, free-living parasites are often used in primary screening assays as a surrogate for the more complex intracellular assays. We and others have found that such axenic assays have a high false positive rate relative to the intracellular assays, and that this limits their usefulness as a primary platform for screening of large compound collections. While many different reasons could lie behind the poor translation from axenic parasite to intracellular parasite, we show here that a key factor is the identification of growth slowing and cytostatic compounds by axenic assays in addition to the more desirable cytocidal compounds. We present a screening cascade based on a novel cytocidal-only axenic amastigote assay, developed by increasing starting density of cells and lowering the limit of detection, and show that it has a much improved translation to the intracellular assay. We propose that this assay is an improved primary platform in a new Leishmania screening cascade designed for the screening of large compound collections. This cascade was employed to screen a diversity-oriented-synthesis library, and yielded two novel antileishmanial chemotypes. The approach we have taken may have broad relevance to anti-infective and anti-parasitic drug discovery.Chemistry and Chemical Biolog

    Screening strategies to identify new chemical diversity for drug development to treat kinetoplastid infections

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    The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) has defined and implemented an early discovery strategy over the last few years, in fitting with its virtual R&D business model. This strategy relies on a medium- to high-throughput phenotypic assay platform to expedite the screening of compound libraries accessed through its collaborations with partners from the pharmaceutical industry. We review the pragmatic approaches used to select compound libraries for screening against kinetoplastids, taking into account screening capacity. The advantages, limitations and current achievements in identifying new quality series for further development into preclinical candidates are critically discussed, together with attractive new approaches currently under investigatio

    Assessing anti-T. cruzi candidates in vitro for sterile cidality

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    Total clearance of the T. cruzi infection – referred to herein as “sterile cure” – seems to be a critical prerequisite for new drug candidates for Chagas disease, ensuring long-term beneficial effects for patients in the chronic indeterminate stage. This requirement is notably supported by the recent findings of clinical studies involving posaconazole and fosravuconazole, where the majority of patients treated eventually relapsed after an apparent clearance of parasitaemia at the end of treatment. We have adapted an in vitro system to predict the ability of a compound to deliver sterile cure. It relies on mouse peritoneal macrophages as host cells for Trypanosoma cruzi amastigotes. The macrophages do not proliferate, allowing for long-term testing and wash-out experiments. Giemsa staining followed by microscopy provides a highly sensitive and specific tool to quantify the numbers of infected host cells. Combining macrophages as host cells and Giemsa staining as the read-out, we demonstrate that posaconazole and other CYP51 inhibitors are unable to achieve complete clearance of an established T. cruzi infection in vitro in spite of the fact that these compounds are active at significantly lower concentrations than the reference drugs benznidazole and nifurtimox. Indeed, a few macrophages remained infected after 96 h of drug incubation in the presence of CYP51 inhibitors–albeit at a very low parasite load. These residual T. cruzi amastigotes were shown to be viable and infective, as demonstrated by wash-out experiments. We advocate characterizing any new anti-T. cruzi early stage candidates for sterile cidality early in the discovery cascade, as a surrogate for delivery of sterile cure in vivo
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