The critical role of mode of action studies in kinetoplastid drug discovery
Understanding the target and mode of action of compounds identified by phenotypic screening can greatly facilitate the process of drug discovery and development. Here, we outline the tools currently available for target identification against the neglected tropical diseases, human African trypanosomiasis, visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas’ disease. We provide examples how these tools can be used to identify and triage undesirable mechanisms, to identify potential toxic liabilities in patients and to manage a balanced portfolio of target-based campaigns. We review the primary targets of drugs that are currently in clinical development that were initially identified via phenotypic screening, and whose modes of action affect protein turnover, RNA trans-splicing or signalling in these protozoan parasites.