Pretoria, South Africa
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PubMed | J. Craig Venter Institute, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, SCYNEXIS, University of Nottingham and 60 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PLoS pathogens | Year: 2016

A major cause of the paucity of new starting points for drug discovery is the lack of interaction between academia and industry. Much of the global resource in biology is present in universities, whereas the focus of medicinal chemistry is still largely within industry. Open source drug discovery, with sharing of information, is clearly a first step towards overcoming this gap. But the interface could especially be bridged through a scale-up of open sharing of physical compounds, which would accelerate the finding of new starting points for drug discovery. The Medicines for Malaria Venture Malaria Box is a collection of over 400 compounds representing families of structures identified in phenotypic screens of pharmaceutical and academic libraries against the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite. The set has now been distributed to almost 200 research groups globally in the last two years, with the only stipulation that information from the screens is deposited in the public domain. This paper reports for the first time on 236 screens that have been carried out against the Malaria Box and compares these results with 55 assays that were previously published, in a format that allows a meta-analysis of the combined dataset. The combined biochemical and cellular assays presented here suggest mechanisms of action for 135 (34%) of the compounds active in killing multiple life-cycle stages of the malaria parasite, including asexual blood, liver, gametocyte, gametes and insect ookinete stages. In addition, many compounds demonstrated activity against other pathogens, showing hits in assays with 16 protozoa, 7 helminths, 9 bacterial and mycobacterial species, the dengue fever mosquito vector, and the NCI60 human cancer cell line panel of 60 human tumor cell lines. Toxicological, pharmacokinetic and metabolic properties were collected on all the compounds, assisting in the selection of the most promising candidates for murine proof-of-concept experiments and medicinal chemistry programs. The data for all of these assays are presented and analyzed to show how outstanding leads for many indications can be selected. These results reveal the immense potential for translating the dispersed expertise in biological assays involving human pathogens into drug discovery starting points, by providing open access to new families of molecules, and emphasize how a small additional investment made to help acquire and distribute compounds, and sharing the data, can catalyze drug discovery for dozens of different indications. Another lesson is that when multiple screens from different groups are run on the same library, results can be integrated quickly to select the most valuable starting points for subsequent medicinal chemistry efforts.


Mufhandu H.T.,Biosciences Unit | Alexandre K.B.,Biosciences Unit | Gray E.S.,South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases | Morris L.,South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases | And 3 more authors.
Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports | Year: 2016

We have previously shown that the aptamer, UCLA1, is able to inhibit HIV-1 replication in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) by binding to residues in gp120. In this study we examined whether UCLA1 was effective against HIV-1 subtype C isolates in monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs). Of 4 macrophage-tropic isolates tested, 3 were inhibited by UCLA1 in the low nanomolar range (IC80<29 nM). One isolate that showed reduced susceptibility (<50 nM) to UCLA1 contained mutations in the α5 helix next to the CD4 and co-receptor (CoR) binding complex. To further evaluate aptamer resistance, two primary viruses were subjected to increasing concentrations of UCLA1 over a period of 84 days in PBMCs. One isolate showed a 7-fold increase in IC80 (351 nM) associated with genetic changes, some of which were previously implicated in resistance. This included F223Y in the C2 region and P369L within the CD4 and CoR binding complex. A second isolate showed a 3-fold increase in IC80 (118 nM) but failed to show any genetic changes. Collectively, these data show that UCLA1 can efficiently block HIV-1 infection in MDMs and PBMCs with escape mutations arising in some isolates after prolonged exposure to the aptamer. This supports the further development of the UCLA1 aptamer as a HIV-1 entry inhibitor. © 2016 The Authors


Ndlovu G.,Natural Product Chemistry Group | Ndlovu G.,University of the Free State | Fouche G.,Natural Product Chemistry Group | Tselanyane M.,Biosciences Unit | And 2 more authors.
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine | Year: 2013

Background: Aging is an inevitable process for all living organisms. During this process reactive oxygen species generation is increased which leads to the activation of hyaluronidase, collagenase and elastase, which can further contribute to skin aging. Four southern African medicinal plants; Clerodendrum glabrum, Schotia brachypetala, Psychotria capensis and Peltophorum africanum, were investigated to assess their anti-aging properties.Methods: Anti-elastase, anti-collagenase and anti-hyaluronidase activities of twenty-eight samples, consisting of methanol and ethyl acetate extracts of the four plants, were determined using spectrophotometric methods. Radical scavenging activity was determined by the ability of the plant extracts to scavenge the ABTS•+ radical.Results: The majority of the samples in the anti-elastase assay and nine in the anti-collagenase assay showed more than 80% inhibition. The ethyl acetate extract of S. brachypetala bark and leaves of P. capensis inhibited elastase activity by more than 90%. The methanol extract of S. brachypetala bark contained the highest anti-hyaluronidase activity (75.13 ± 7.49%) whilst the ethyl acetate extract of P. africanum bark exhibited the highest antioxidant activity (IC50: 1.99 ± 0.23 μg/ml).Conclusion: The free radical scavenging activity and enzyme inhibitory activity of the plant extracts investigated suggests that they can help restore skin elasticity and thereby slow the wrinkling process. P. africanum was the plant with the most promising activity and will be subjected to further testing and isolation of the active compound/s. © 2013 Ndlovu et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Tsekoa T.L.,Biosciences Unit | Lotter-Stark T.,Biosciences Unit | Buthelezi S.,Biosciences Unit | Chakauya E.,Biosciences Unit | And 12 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Rabies is a neglected zoonotic disease that has no effective treatment after onset of illness. However the disease can be prevented effectively by prompt administration of post exposure prophylaxis which includes administration of passive immunizing antibodies (Rabies Immune Globulin, RIG). Currently, human RIG suffers from many restrictions including limited availability, batch-to batch inconsistencies and potential for contamination with blood-borne pathogens. Anti-rabies monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have been identified as a promising alternative to RIG. Here, we applied a plant-based transient expression system to achieve rapid, high level production and efficacy of the two highly potent anti-rabies mAbs E559 and 62-71-3. Expression levels of up to 490 mg/kg of recombinant mAbs were obtained in Nicotiana benthamiana glycosylation mutants by using a viral based transient expression system. The plant-made E559 and 62-71-3, carrying human-type fucose-free N-glycans, assembled properly and were structurally sound as determined by mass spectrometry and calorimetric density measurements. Both mAbs efficiently neutralised diverse rabies virus variants in vitro. Importantly, E559 and 62-71-3 exhibited enhanced protection against rabies virus compared to human RIG in a hamster model post-exposure challenge trial. Collectively, our results provide the basis for the development of a multi-mAb based alternative to RIG. © 2016 Tsekoa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Lopes De Campos W.R.,Biosciences Unit | Chirwa N.,Biosciences Unit | London G.,Biosciences Unit | Rotherham L.S.,Biosciences Unit | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

HIV-associated cardiomyopathy (HIVCM) is of clinical concern in developing countries because of a high HIV-1 prevalence, especially subtype C, and limited access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). For these reasons, we investigated the direct and indirect effects of HIV-1 subtype C infection of cultured human cardiomyocytes and the mechanisms leading to cardiomyocytes damage; as well as a way to mitigate the damage. We evaluated a novel approach to mitigate HIVCM using a previously reported gp120 binding and HIV-1 neutralizing aptamer called UCLA1. We established a cell-based model of HIVCM by infecting human cardiomyocytes with cell-free HIV-1 or co-culturing human cardiomyocytes with HIV-infected monocyte derived macrophages (MDM). We discovered that HIV-1 subtype C unproductively (i.e. its life cycle is arrested after reverse transcription) infects cardiomyocytes. Furthermore, we found that HIV-1 initiates apoptosis of cardiomyocytes through caspase-9 activation, preferentially via the intrinsic or mitochondrial initiated pathway. CXCR4 receptor-using viruses were stronger inducers of apoptosis than CCR5 utilizing variants. Importantly, we discovered that HIV-1 induced apoptosis of cardiomyocytes was mitigated by UCLA1. However, UCLA1 had no protective effective on cardiomyocytes when apoptosis was triggered by HIV-infected MDM. When HIV-1 was treated with UCLA1 prior to infection of MDM, it failed to induce apoptosis of cardiomyocytes. These data suggest that HIV-1 causes a mitochondrial initiated apoptotic cascade, which signal through caspase-9, whereas HIV-1 infected MDM causes apoptosis predominantly via the death-receptor pathway, mediated by caspase-8. Furthermore the data suggest that UCLA1 protects cardiomyocytes from caspase-mediated apoptosis, directly by binding to HIV-1 and indirectly by preventing infection of MDM. © 2014 Lopes de Campos et al.


PubMed | South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases, University of Cape Town and Biosciences Unit
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2014

HIV-associated cardiomyopathy (HIVCM) is of clinical concern in developing countries because of a high HIV-1 prevalence, especially subtype C, and limited access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). For these reasons, we investigated the direct and indirect effects of HIV-1 subtype C infection of cultured human cardiomyocytes and the mechanisms leading to cardiomyocytes damage; as well as a way to mitigate the damage. We evaluated a novel approach to mitigate HIVCM using a previously reported gp120 binding and HIV-1 neutralizing aptamer called UCLA1. We established a cell-based model of HIVCM by infecting human cardiomyocytes with cell-free HIV-1 or co-culturing human cardiomyocytes with HIV-infected monocyte derived macrophages (MDM). We discovered that HIV-1 subtype C unproductively (i.e. its life cycle is arrested after reverse transcription) infects cardiomyocytes. Furthermore, we found that HIV-1 initiates apoptosis of cardiomyocytes through caspase-9 activation, preferentially via the intrinsic or mitochondrial initiated pathway. CXCR4 receptor-using viruses were stronger inducers of apoptosis than CCR5 utilizing variants. Importantly, we discovered that HIV-1 induced apoptosis of cardiomyocytes was mitigated by UCLA1. However, UCLA1 had no protective effective on cardiomyocytes when apoptosis was triggered by HIV-infected MDM. When HIV-1 was treated with UCLA1 prior to infection of MDM, it failed to induce apoptosis of cardiomyocytes. These data suggest that HIV-1 causes a mitochondrial initiated apoptotic cascade, which signal through caspase-9, whereas HIV-1 infected MDM causes apoptosis predominantly via the death-receptor pathway, mediated by caspase-8. Furthermore the data suggest that UCLA1 protects cardiomyocytes from caspase-mediated apoptosis, directly by binding to HIV-1 and indirectly by preventing infection of MDM.

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