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Antimalarial Benzimidazole Derivatives Incorporating Phenolic Mannich Base Side Chains Inhibit Microtubule and Hemozoin Formation: Structure–Activity Relationship and In Vivo Oral Efficacy Studies

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posted on 12.04.2021, 20:31 authored by Godwin Akpeko Dziwornu, Dina Coertzen, Meta Leshabane, Constance M. Korkor, Cleavon K. Cloete, Mathew Njoroge, Liezl Gibhard, Nina Lawrence, Janette Reader, Mariëtte van der Watt, Sergio Wittlin, Lyn-Marie Birkholtz, Kelly Chibale
A novel series of antimalarial benzimidazole derivatives incorporating phenolic Mannich base side chains at the C2 position, which possess dual asexual blood and sexual stage activities, is presented. Structure–activity relationship studies revealed that the 1-benzylbenzimidazole analogues possessed submicromolar asexual blood and sexual stage activities in contrast to the 1H-benzimidazole analogues, which were only active against asexual blood stage (ABS) parasites. Further, the former demonstrated microtubule inhibitory activity in ABS parasites but more significantly in stage II/III gametocytes. In addition to being bona fide inhibitors of hemozoin formation, the 1H-benzimidazole analogues also showed inhibitory effects on microtubules. In vivo efficacy studies in Plasmodium berghei-infected mice revealed that the frontrunner compound 41 exhibited high efficacy (98% reduction in parasitemia) when dosed orally at 4 × 50 mg/kg. Generally, the compounds were noncytotoxic to mammalian cells.