3 years ago

Cheminformatic Analysis of Antimalarial Chemical Space Illuminates Therapeutic Mechanisms and Offers Strategies for Therapy Development

Cheminformatic Analysis of Antimalarial Chemical Space Illuminates Therapeutic Mechanisms and Offers Strategies for Therapy Development
Vikramaditya G. Yadav, Sandip V. Pawar, María Fernanda Lammoglia Cobo, Julia Nogueira Varela
The clear and present danger of malaria, which has been amplified in recent years by climate change, and the progressive thinning of our drug arsenal over the past two decades raise uncomfortable questions about the current state and future of antimalarial drug development. Besides suffering from many of the same technical challenges that affect drug development in other disease areas, the quest for new antimalarial therapies is also hindered by the complex, dynamic life cycle of the malaria parasite, P. falciparum, in its mosquito and human hosts, and its role thereof in the elicitation of drug resistance. New strategies are needed in order to ensure economical and expeditious development of new, more efficacious treatments. In the present study, we employ open-source cheminformatics tools to analyze the chemical space traversed by approved antimalarial drugs and promising candidates at various stages of development to uncover insights that could shape future endeavors in the field. Our scaffold-centric analysis reveals that the antimalarial chemical space is disjointed and segregated into a few dominant structural groups. In fact, the structures of antimalarial drugs and drug candidates are distributed according to Pareto’s principle. This structural convergence can potentially be exploited for future drug discovery by incorporating it into bioinformatics workflows that are typically employed for solving problems in structural biology. Significantly, we demonstrate how molecular scaffold hunting can be applied to unearth putative mechanisms of action of drugs whose activities remain a mystery, and how scaffold-centric analysis of drug space can also provide a recipe for combination therapies that minimize the likelihood of emergence of drug resistance, as well as identify areas on which to focus efforts. Finally, we also observe that over half of the molecules in the antimalarial space bear no resemblance to other molecules in the collection, which suggests that the pharmacobiology of antimalarial drugs has not been entirely surveyed.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jcim.7b00072

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jcim.7b00072

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