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Structure−Activity Relationships of the Antimalarial Agent Artemisinin. 6. The Development of Predictive In Vitro Potency Models Using CoMFA and HQSAR Methodologies

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journal contribution
posted on 08.12.2001, 00:00 by Mitchell A. Avery, Maria Alvim-Gaston, Carlos R. Rodrigues, Eliezer J. Barreiro, Fred E. Cohen, Yogesh A. Sabnis, John R. Woolfrey
Artemisinin (1) is a unique sesquiterpene peroxide occurring as a constituent of Artemisia annua L. Because of the effectiveness of Artemisinin in the treatment of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and its rapid clearance of cerebral malaria, development of clinically useful semisynthetic drugs for severe and complicated malaria (artemether, artesunate) was prompt. However, recent reports of fatal neurotoxicity in animals with dihydroartemisinin derivatives such as artemether have spawned a renewed effort to develop nontoxic analogues of artemisinin. In our effort to develop more potent, less neurotoxic agents for the oral treatment of drug-resistant malaria, we utilized comparative molecular field analysis (CoMFA) and hologram QSAR (HQSAR), beginning with a series of 211 artemisinin analogues with known in vitro antimalarial activity. CoMFA models were based on two conformational hypotheses:  (a) that the X-ray structure of artemisinin represents the bioactive shape of the molecule or (b) that the hemin-docked conformation is the bioactive form of the drug. In addition, we examined the effect of inclusion or exclusion of racemates in the partial least squares (pls) analysis. Databases derived from the original 211 were split into chiral (n = 157), achiral (n = 34), and mixed databases (n = 191) after leaving out a test set of 20 compounds. HQSAR and CoMFA models were compared in terms of their potential to generate robust QSAR models. The r2 and q2 (cross-validated r2) were used to assess the statistical quality of our models. Another statistical parameter, the ratio of the standard error to the activity range (s/AR), was also generated. CoMFA and HQSAR models were developed having statistically excellent properties, which also possessed good predictive ability for test set compounds. The best model was obtained when racemates were excluded from QSAR analysis. Thus, CoMFA of the n = 157 database gave excellent predictions with outstanding statistical properties. HQSAR did an outstanding job in statistical analysis and also handled predictions well.