Drug-like analogues of the parasitic worm-derived immunomodulator ES-62 are therapeutic in the MRL/Lpr model of systemic lupus erythematosus

D. T. Rodgers, M. A. Pineda, C. J. Suckling, W. Harnett, M. M. Harnett

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Introduction ES-62, a phosphorylcholine (PC)-containing immunomodulator secreted by the parasitic worm Acanthocheilonema viteae, protects against nephritis in the MRL/Lpr mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, ES-62 is not suitable for development as a therapy and thus we have designed drug-like small molecule analogues (SMAs) based around its active PC-moiety. To provide proof of concept that ES-62-based SMAs exhibit therapeutic potential in SLE, we have investigated the capacity of two SMAs to protect against nephritis when administered to MRL/Lpr mice after onset of kidney damage. Methods SMAs 11a and 12b were evaluated for their ability to suppress antinuclear antibody (ANA) generation and consequent kidney pathology in MRL/Lpr mice when administered after the onset of proteinuria. Results SMAs 11a and 12b suppressed development of ANA and proteinuria. Protection reflected downregulation of MyD88 expression by kidney cells and this was associated with reduced production of IL-6, a cytokine that exhibits promise as a therapeutic target for this condition. Conclusions SMAs 11a and 12b provide proof of principle that synthetic compounds based on the safe immunomodulatory mechanisms of parasitic worms can exhibit therapeutic potential as a novel class of drugs for SLE, a disease for which current therapies remain inadequate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1437-1442
Number of pages6
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • antinuclear antibody (ANA)
  • ES-62
  • inflammation
  • MRL/Lpr mouse
  • MyD88
  • nephritis
  • parasitic helminth
  • SLE

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