Drug combinations as effective anti-leishmanials against drug resistant Leishmania mexicana

Ahmed, Humera and Curtis, Charlotte R. and Tur-Gracia, Sara and Olatunji, Toluwanimi O. and Carter, Katharine C. and Williams, Roderick A. M. (2020) Drug combinations as effective anti-leishmanials against drug resistant Leishmania mexicana. RSC Medicinal Chemistry, 11 (8). pp. 905-912. ISSN 2040-2511 (https://doi.org/10.1039/D0MD00101E)

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Leishmania is a parasite that causes the disease leishmaniasis, and 700 000 to 1 million new cases occur each year. There are few drugs that treat the disease and drug resistance in the parasite limits the clinical utility of existing drugs. One way to combat drug resistance is to use combination therapy rather than monotherapy. In this study we have compared the effect of single and combination treatments with four different compounds, i.e. alkylphosphocholine analogues APC12 and APC14, miltefosine (MIL), ketoconazole (KTZ), and amphotericin B (AmpB), on the survival of Leishmania mexicana wild-type promastigotes and a cell line derived from the WT with induced resistance to APC12 (C12Rx). The combination treatment with APC14 and APC16 had a synergistic effect in killing the WT while the combination treatment with KTZ and APC12 or APC14 or APC12 and APC14 had a synergistic effect against C12Rx. More than 90% killing efficiency was obtained using APC12 alone at >1 mg ml-1 against the C12Rx strain; however, combinations with APC14 produced a similar killing efficiency using APC12 at 0.063-0.25 mg ml-1 and APC14 at 0.003-0.5 mg ml-1. These results show that combination therapy can negate induced drug resistance in L. mexicana and that the use of this type of screening system could accelerate the development of drug combinations for clinical use.