Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, VOLUME 117 | 2022

Past and future of trypanosomatids high-throughput phenotypic screening

Rafael Ferreira Dantas1, Eduardo Caio Torres dos Santos2, Floriano Paes Silva Junior1,+

1Fundação Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Laboratório de Bioquímica Experimental de Computacional de Fármacos, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil
2Fundação Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Laboratório de Bioquímica de Tripanosomatídeos, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

DOI: 10.1590/0074-02760210402
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Diseases caused by trypanosomatid parasites affect millions of people mainly living in developing countries. Novel drugs are highly needed since there are no vaccines and available treatment has several limitations, such as resistance, low efficacy, and high toxicity. The drug discovery process is often analogous to finding a needle in the haystack. In the last decades a socalled rational drug design paradigm, heavily dependent on computational approaches, has promised to deliver new drugs in a more cost-effective way. Paradoxically however, the mainstay of these computational methods is data-driven, meaning they need activity data for new compounds to be generated and available in databases. Therefore, high-throughput screening (HTS) of compounds still is a much-needed exercise in drug discovery to fuel other rational approaches. In trypanosomatids, due to the scarcity of validated molecular targets and biological complexity of these parasites, phenotypic screening has become an essential tool for the discovery of new bioactive compounds. In this article we discuss the perspectives of phenotypic HTS for trypanosomatid drug discovery with emphasis on the role of image-based, high-content methods. We also propose an ideal cascade of assays for the identification of new drug candidates for clinical development using leishmaniasis as an example.

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Financial support: CNPq, CAPES, FAPERJ, FAPEG, FIOCRUZ.
ECTS and FPSJr are CNPq research fellows and FAPERJ CNE fellowships recipients.
+ Corresponding author:
ORCID 0000-0003-4560-1291.
Received 20 December 2021
Accepted 28 December 2021

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