Malaria and other parasitic diseases are the greatest health problem currently facing the developing world, and P. falciparum malaria is a particularly severe problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Drug development is a necessary approach to reducing the worldwide impact of malaria, because it is the only approach that will benefit the millions of people currently afflicted with this disease. Natural products are a known, excellent source of antimalarial compounds. Two of the most effective antimalarial drugs (quinine and artemisinin) are natural products, and many synthetic antimalarial drugs are analogs of these two natural products. In addition to the use of isolated natural products as antimalarial agents, many plants are used ethno medically for the treatment of malaria. The development of new antimalarial natural products is however handicapped by a lack of understanding of their mechanism of action. This research will combine the antimalarial expertise of two research groups at Virginia Tech (VT) with the natural product resources of the Natural Products Discovery Institute (NPDI) in a collaborative program to tap into the enormous potential of natural products to serve as antimalarial agents. The NPDI maintains a repository of over 22,000 samples prepared from a total of approximately 7500 plant specimens. The antimalarial activity of a set of extracts from twelve plants in this collection with an ethno medical history of use as antimalarial agents has been validated at VT, and these extracts will be supplied by NPDI for isolation of novel antimalarial compounds from plants used in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In addition, all 22,000 extracts from the NPDI will be assayed for antimalarial activity by Dr. Belen Cassera at VT using a standard antimalarial bioassay to identify active extracts. Extracts which pass rigorous selection criteria will then be fractionated by Dr. David Kingston at VT, who will isolate and determine the structures of the active compounds from both the ethno medical extracts and active extracts found by screening the entire NPDI collection. Isolated compounds will be evaluated for stage specific activity (asexual intraerythrocytic stages, gametocytocidal, and liver stages), as well as cytocidal and anti-apicoplast activity to identify lead inhibitors wih different modes of action. The three most promising leads will then be selected to elucidate their mode of action and potential molecular target(s) using proteomics, metabolomics and transcriptomics approaches, with the ultimate goal of finding a novel antimalarial agent with a new mechanism of action. Synthetic chemistry will provide analogs of these lead compounds for future drug development.

Public Health Relevance

Natural products and their derivatives have served as the source of approximately 50% of all current drugs, and they are the source of the antimalarial drugs quinine and artemisinin. This research will combine the antimalarial expertise of two research groups at Virginia Tech (VT) with the natural product resources of the Natural Products Discovery Institute (NPDI) in a collaborative program to tap into the enormous potential of plants used in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and other plants to serve as sources of new antimalarial agents. Isolated compounds will be evaluated in a series of biological systems to elucidate the mechanisms of action of the best new lead compounds, with the goal of finding new drug candidates.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAT1)
Program Officer
Williamson, John S
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Cho, Namki; Du, Yongle; Valenciano, Ana Lisa et al. (2018) Antiplasmodial alkaloids from bulbs of Amaryllis belladonna Steud. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 28:40-42
Cho, Namki; Valenciano, Ana Lisa; Du, Yongle et al. (2018) Antiplasmodial flavanones and a stilbene from Carpha glomerata. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 28:3368-3371
Du, Yongle; Kingston, David G I (2018) Structure Reassignment of Cryptorigidifoliols E and K. J Nat Prod 81:414-417
Presley, Christopher Charles; Valenciano, Ana Lisa; Fernández-Murga, Maria L et al. (2018) Antiplasmodial Chromanes and Chromenes from the Monotypic Plant Species Koeberlinia spinosa. J Nat Prod 81:475-483
Du, Yongle; Abedi, Alexander K; Valenciano, Ana Lisa et al. (2017) Isolation of the New Antiplasmodial Butanolide, Malleastrumolide A, from Malleastrum sp. (Meliaceae) from Madagascar. Chem Biodivers 14:
Presley, Christopher C; Du, Yongle; Dalal, Seema et al. (2017) Isolation, structure elucidation, and synthesis of antiplasmodial quinolones from Crinum firmifolium. Bioorg Med Chem 25:4203-4211
Du, Yongle; Pearce, Kirk C; Dai, Yumin et al. (2017) Antiplasmodial Sesquiterpenoid Lactones from Trichospira verticillata: Structure Elucidation by Spectroscopic Methods and Comparison of Experimental and Calculated ECD Data. J Nat Prod 80:1639-1647
Zhou, Bin; Wu, Yan; Dalal, Seema et al. (2017) Nanomolar Antimalarial Agents against Chloroquine-Resistant Plasmodium falciparum from Medicinal Plants and Their Structure-Activity Relationships. J Nat Prod 80:96-107
Latif, Abdul; Du, Yongle; Dalal, Seema R et al. (2017) Bioactive Neolignans and Other Compounds from Magnolia grandiflora L.: Isolation and Antiplasmodial Activity. Chem Biodivers 14:
Su, Qingxi; Dalal, Seema; Goetz, Michael et al. (2016) New Antiplasmodial Diterpenes from Gutierrezia sarothrae. Nat Prod Commun 11:719-21

Showing the most recent 10 out of 19 publications