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BACKGROUND: New anti-malarial drugs are needed urgently to address the increasing challenges of drug-resistant falciparum malaria. Two rhinacanthin analogues containing a naphthoquinone moiety resembling atovaquone showed promising in-vitro activity against a P. falciparum laboratory reference strain (K1). The anti-malarial activity of these 2 compounds was further evaluated for P. falciparum field isolates from an area of multi-drug resistance in Northeast Thailand. METHODS: Using a pLDH enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, four P. falciparum isolates from Northeast Thailand in 2018 were tested for in vitro sensitivity to the two synthetic rhinacanthin analogues 1 and 2 as well as established anti-malarials. Mutations in the P. falciparum cytochrome b gene, a marker for atovaquone (ATQ) resistance, were genotyped in all four field isolates as well as 100 other clinical isolates from the same area using PCR-artificial Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms. Pfkelch13 mutations, a marker for artemisinin (ART) resistance, were also examined in all isolates. RESULTS: The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of P. falciparum field isolates for rhinacanthin analogue 1 was 321.9-791.1 nM (median = 403.1 nM). Parasites were more sensitive to analogue 2: IC50 48.6-63.3 nM (median = 52.2 nM). Similar results were obtained against P. falciparum reference laboratory strains 3D7 and W2. The ART-resistant IPC-5202 laboratory strain was more sensitive to these compounds with a median IC50 45.9 and 3.3 nM for rhinacanthin analogues 1 and 2, respectively. The ATQ-resistant C2B laboratory strain showed high-grade resistance towards both compounds (IC50 > 15,000 nM), and there was a strong positive correlation between the IC50 values for these compounds and ATQ (r = 0.83-0.97, P 

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Journal article


Malar J

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