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Keywords:

  • Chagas’ disease;
  • computer-aided drug discovery;
  • cruzain;
  • cruzipain;
  • cysteine protease inhibitor;
  • Trypanosoma cruzi

The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas’ disease, affects millions of individuals and continues to be an important global health concern. The poor efficacy and unfavorable side effects of current treatments necessitate novel therapeutics. Cruzain, the major cysteine protease of T. cruzi, is one potential novel target. Recent advances in a class of vinyl sulfone inhibitors are encouraging; however, as most potential therapeutics fail in clinical trials and both disease progression and resistance call for combination therapy with several drugs, the identification of additional classes of inhibitory molecules is essential. Using an exhaustive virtual-screening and experimental validation approach, we identify several additional small-molecule cruzain inhibitors. Further optimization of these chemical scaffolds could lead to the development of novel drugs useful in the treatment of Chagas’ disease.