Identification of heparin modifications and polysaccharide inhibitors of plasmodium falciparum merozoite invasion that have potential for novel drug development

Michelle J. Boyle, Mark Skidmore, Benjamin Dickerman, Lynsay Cooper, Anthony Devlin, Edwin Yates, Paul Horrocks, Craig Freeman, Wengang Chai, James G. Beeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Despite recent successful control efforts, malaria remains a leading global health burden. Alarmingly, resistance to current antimalarials is increasing and the development of new drug families is needed to maintain malaria control. Current antimalarials target the intraerythrocytic developmental stage of the Plasmodium falciparum life cycle. However, the invasive extracellular parasite form, the merozoite, is also an attractive target for drug development. We have previously demonstrated that heparin-like molecules, including those with low molecular weights and low anticoagulant activities, are potent and specific inhibitors of merozoite invasion and blood-stage replication. Here we tested a large panel of heparin-like molecules and sulfated polysaccharides together with various modified chemical forms for their inhibitory activity against P. falciparum merozoite invasion. We identified chemical modifications that improve inhibitory activity and identified several additional sulfated polysaccharides with strong inhibitory activity. These studies have important implications for the further development of heparin-like molecules as antimalarial drugs and for understanding merozoite invasion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00709-17
Number of pages17
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Heparin
  • Invasion
  • Merozoite
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Polysaccharide

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