Nematode parasites of humans and livestock pose a significant burden to human health, economic development, and food security. Anthelmintic drug resistance is widespread among parasites of livestock and many nematode parasites of humans lack effective treatments. Here, we present a nitrophenyl-piperazine scaffold that induces motor defects rapidly in the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans . We call this scaffold Nemacol and show that it inhibits the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT), a target recognized by commercial animal and crop health groups as a viable anthelmintic target. We demonstrate that it is possible to create Nemacol analogs that maintain potent in vivo activity whilst lowering their affinity to the mammalian VAChT 10-fold. We also show that Nemacol synergizes with the anthelmintic ivermectin to kill C. elegans . Hence, Nemacol represents a promising new anthelmintic scaffold that acts through an identified viable anthelmintic target.
One sentence summary
A small molecule screen identifies a vesicular acetylcholine transporter inhibitor scaffold that incapacitates parasitic nematodes