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Nine hundred million people are infected with the soil-transmitted helminths Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworm), hookworm, and Trichuris trichiura (whipworm). However, low single-dose cure rates of the benzimidazole drugs, the mainstay of preventative chemotherapy for whipworm, together with parasite drug resistance, mean that current approaches may not be able to eliminate morbidity from trichuriasis. We are seeking to develop new anthelmintic drugs specifically with activity against whipworm as a priority and previously identified a hit series of dihydrobenzoxazepinone (DHB) compounds that block motility of ex vivo Trichuris muris. Here, we report a systematic investigation of the structure-activity relationship of the anthelmintic activity of DHB compounds. We synthesized 47 analogues, which allowed us to define features of the molecules essential for anthelmintic action as well as broadening the chemotype by identification of dihydrobenzoquinolinones (DBQs) with anthelmintic activity. We investigated the activity of these compounds against other parasitic nematodes, identifying DHB compounds with activity against Brugia malayi and Heligmosomoides polygyrus. We also demonstrated activity of DHB compounds against the trematode Schistosoma mansoni, a parasite that causes schistosomiasis. These results demonstrate the potential of DHB and DBQ compounds for further development as broad-spectrum anthelmintics.

Original publication




Journal article


ACS Infect Dis

Publication Date



Trichuris, anthelmintic, drug discovery, nematode, trematode, whipworm