The A/T-specific DNA alkylating agent adozelesin inhibits Plasmodium falciparum growth in vitro and protects mice against Plasmodium chabaudi adami infection Academic Article uri icon


  • There is an urgent need for new anti-malarial drugs to combat the resurgence of resistance to current therapies. To exploit the A/T richness of malaria DNA as a potential target for anti-malarial drugs we tested an A/T-specific DNA synthesis inhibitor, adozelesin, for activity against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro and Plasmodium chabaudi adami in mice. Adozelesin is a DNA alkylating agent that exhibits specificity for the motif A/T, A/T and A. In P. falciparum 3D7 cultures, adozelesin acts as a powerful inhibitor of parasite growth (IC(50) of 70 pM) and is equally potent at killing the drug-resistant strains FCR3 and 7G8. Using a real-time PCR assay, we show that treatment with adozelesin in vitro results in damage of P. falciparum genomic DNA. In synchronized cultures, adozelesin exhibits a concentration-dependent effect on parasitemia and on the development of parasites through the asexual cycle. In asynchronous cultures, parasites arrest at all stages of the asexual cycle suggesting that adozelesin exerts other anti-parasitic effects in addition to inhibiting DNA replication. These anti-parasite effects are irreversible since cultures exposed to adozelesin for more than 6h fail to recover upon removal of the drug. Furthermore, adozelesin is very effective at suppressing malaria infection in vivo; growth of P. c. adami DK in mice was highly impaired by a single injection of adozelesin (25 microg/kg) at 4 days post-infection. These results demonstrate that adozelesin irreversibly blocks parasite growth in vitro and suppresses parasite infection in vivo, suggesting that A/T-specific DNA damaging agents represent a new class of compounds with potential as anti-malarials.

publication date

  • July 2006