In the course of our research program to discover novel antileishmanial agents, a biological screening of natural products against Leishmania major promastigotes allowed the identification of a furoquinoline alkaloid (1) and a furanocoumarin (2) as new hits. Subsequently, an integrated ligand-based virtual screening approach was employed to search for new antileishmanial compounds using these naturally occurring molecules as templates. Fourteen out of 40 compounds selected from a database of about 800,000 compounds (extracted from ZINC, a free database for virtual screening) were experimentally confirmed to possess significant in vitro antileishmanial properties. The application of ligand-based virtual screening as a complementary approach to experimental natural product screening was a useful strategy to facilitate the identification of new promising lead candidates.
Keywords: Leishmaniasis, Natural products, Screening, Similarity, Drug design, Ligand-based virtual screening
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