Discovery of novel liver-stage antimalarials through quantum similarity

David J. Sullivan, Yi Liu, Bryan T. Mott, Nikola Kaludov, Martin N. Martinov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Without quantum theory any understanding of molecular interactions is incomplete. In principal, chemistry, and even biology, can be fully derived from non-relativistic quantum mechanics. In practice, conventional quantum chemical calculations are computationally too intensive and time consuming to be useful for drug discovery on more than a limited basis. A previously described, original, quantum-based computational process for drug discovery and design bridges this gap between theory and practice, and allows the application of quantum methods to large-scale in silico identification of active compounds. Here, we show the results of this quantum-similarity approach applied to the discovery of novel liver-stage antimalarials. Testing of only five of the model-predicted compounds in vitro and in vivo hepatic stage drug inhibition assays with P. berghei identified four novel chemical structures representing three separate quantum classes of liver-stage antimalarials. All four compounds inhibited liver-stage Plasmodium as a single oral dose in the quantitative PCR mouse liver-stage sporozoites-challenge model. One of the newly identified compounds, cethromycin [ABT-773], a macrolide-quinoline hybrid, is a drug with an extensive (over 5,000 people) safety profile warranting its exploitation as a new weapon for the current effort of malaria eradication. The results of our molecular modeling exceed current state-of-theart computational methods. Drug discovery through quantum similarity is data-driven, agnostic to any particular target or disease process that can evaluate multiple phenotypic, target-specific, or co-crystal structural data. This allows the incorporation of additional pharmacological requirements, as well as rapid exploration of novel chemical spaces for therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0125593
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 7 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Discovery of novel liver-stage antimalarials through quantum similarity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this