Synthetic strategies for potential trypanocides

  • Amy Capes

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is a devastating disease which is endemic in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It is caused by the protozoan parasite T. brucei, which are transmitted by the bite of infected tsetse flies. Although the disease is fatal if left untreated, there is a lack of safe, effective and affordable drugs available; therefore new drugs are urgently needed. The aim of the work presented in this thesis is to develop novel trypanocidal compounds. It is divided into two parts to reflect the two distinct strategies employed to achieve this aim. The first part focuses on the inhibition of glycophosphoinositol (GPI) anchor synthesis by inhibiting the Zn2+-dependent enzyme, GlcNAc-PI de-N-acetylase. Trypanosomes have a variable surface glycoprotein (VSG) coat, which allows them to evade the human immune system. The GPI anchor attaches the VSG to the cell membrane; therefore inhibiting GPI synthesis should expose the parasite to the immune system. Initially, large substrate analogues were synthesized. These showed weak inhibition of the enzyme. Zinc-binding fragments were screened, and small molecule inhibitors based on salicylhydroxamic acid were then synthesized. These compounds showed modest inhibition, but the excellent ligand efficiency of salicylhydroxamic acid indicates this may be a promising starting point for further inhibitors. The second part details the P2 strategy. The P2 transporter is a nucleoside transporter unique to T. brucei, which concentrates adenosine. The transporter also binds and selectively concentrates compounds that contain benzamidine and diaminotriazine P2 motifs, which can enhance the potency and selectivity of these compounds. The sleeping sickness drugs melarsoprol and pentamidine contain P2 motifs. Compounds comprising a P2 targeting motif, a linker and a trypanocidal moiety were synthesized. Initially, a diaminotriazine P2 motif was attached to a trypanocidal tetrahydroquinoline (THQ) protein farnesyl transferase (PFT) inhibitor, with limited success. The P2 strategy was also applied to a non-selective, trypanocidal, quinol moiety. The quinol moiety was attached to diaminotriazine and benzamidine P2 motifs, and an increase in selectivity for T. brucei over MRC5 cells was observed.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorIan Gilbert (Supervisor)


    • Trypanosoma brucei
    • Salicylhydroxamic acid
    • Sleeping sickness
    • Trypanosomiasis
    • P2 transporter
    • GPI biosynthesis
    • N-Acetylglucosamine phosphatidylinositol de-N-acetylase
    • Glc-NAc-PI de-N-acetylase
    • Triazine
    • Benzamidine
    • Protein farnesyl transferase
    • Quinols
    • Cyclohexane diol
    • Epoxide opening reaction
    • Copper (II) tetrafluoroborate

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