Evaluation of spiropiperidine hydantoins as a novel class of antimalarial agents

Bioorg Med Chem. 2015 Aug 15;23(16):5144-50. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2015.02.050. Epub 2015 Mar 4.


Given the rise of parasite resistance to all currently used antimalarial drugs, the identification of novel chemotypes with unique mechanisms of action is of paramount importance. Since Plasmodium expresses a number of aspartic proteases necessary for its survival, we have mined antimalarial datasets for drug-like aspartic protease inhibitors. This effort led to the identification of spiropiperidine hydantoins, bearing similarity to known inhibitors of the human aspartic protease β-secretase (BACE), as new leads for antimalarial drug discovery. Spiropiperidine hydantoins have a dynamic structure-activity relationship profile with positions identified as being tolerant of a variety of substitution patterns as well as a key piperidine N-benzyl phenol pharmacophore. Lead compounds 4e (CWHM-123) and 12k (CWHM-505) are potent antimalarials with IC50 values against Plasmodium falciparum 3D7 of 0.310 μM and 0.099 μM, respectively, and the former features equivalent potency on the chloroquine-resistant Dd2 strain. Remarkably, these compounds do not inhibit human aspartic proteases BACE, cathepsins D and E, or Plasmodium plasmepsins II and IV despite their similarity to known BACE inhibitors. Although the current leads suffer from poor metabolic stability, they do fit into a drug-like chemical property space and provide a new class of potent antimalarial agents for further study.

Keywords: Antimalarial; Antiplasmodial; Aspartic protease inhibitors; Spiropiperidine hydantoins.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / chemistry*
  • Antimalarials / metabolism
  • Antimalarials / pharmacokinetics
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Drug Discovery
  • Humans
  • Hydantoins / chemistry*
  • Hydantoins / metabolism
  • Hydantoins / pharmacokinetics
  • Hydantoins / pharmacology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Piperidines / chemistry
  • Piperidines / metabolism
  • Piperidines / pharmacokinetics
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / enzymology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Spiro Compounds / chemistry
  • Spiro Compounds / metabolism
  • Spiro Compounds / pharmacokinetics
  • Spiro Compounds / pharmacology


  • Antimalarials
  • Hydantoins
  • Piperidines
  • Spiro Compounds
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases