Identification of a kappa-opioid agonist as a potent and selective lead for drug development against human African trypanosomiasis

Deuan C. Jones, Irene Hallyburton, Laste Stojanovski, Kevin D. Read, Julie A. Frearson, Alan H. Fairlamb

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    Abstract

    A resazurin-based cell viability assay was developed for phenotypic screening of the LOPAC 1280 'library of pharmacologically active compounds' against bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei in vitro identifying 33 compounds with EC50 values <1 mu M. Counter-screening vs. normal diploid human fibroblasts (MRC5 cells) was used to rank these hits for selectivity, with the most potent (<70 nM) and selective (>700-fold) compounds being suramin and pentamidine. These are well-known antitrypanosomal drugs which demonstrate the robustness of the resazurin cell viability assay. The most selective novel inhibitor was (+)-trans-(1R,2R)-U50,488 having an EC50 value of 60 nM against T. brucei and 270-fold selectivity over human fibroblasts. Interestingly, (-)-U50,488, a known CNS-active kappa-opioid receptor agonist and other structurally related compounds were >70-fold less active or inactive, as were several mu- and kappa-opioid antagonists. Although (+)-U50,488 was well tolerated by the oral route and displayed good pharmaceutical properties, including high brain penetration, the compound was not curative in the mouse model of infection. Nonetheless, the divergence of antinociceptive and antitrypanosomal activity represents a promising start point for further exploratory chemistry. Bioinformatic studies did not reveal any obvious candidate opioid receptors and the target of this cytostatic compound is unknown. Among the other potent, but less selective screening hits were compound classes with activity against protein kinases, topoisomerases, tubulin, as well as DNA and energy metabolism. (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1478-1486
    Number of pages9
    JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
    Volume80
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2010

    Keywords

    • Phenotypic screening
    • African trypanosomiasis
    • Target identification
    • Target validation
    • U50,488
    • IN-VITRO
    • CHLOROQUINE RESISTANCE
    • CROSS-RESISTANCE
    • BRUCEI
    • DISCOVERY
    • DISEASES
    • CYTOTOXICITY
    • SENSITIVITY
    • VALIDATION
    • NIFURTIMOX

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