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A Structural Chemistry Perspective on the Antimalarial Properties of Thiosemicarbazone Metal Complexes

[ Vol. 19 , Issue. 7 ]


Kelly L. Summers*   Pages 569 - 590 ( 22 )


Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease, affecting approx. 214 million people worldwide. Malaria is caused by a protozoan, Plasmodium falciparum, which is transmitted through the Anopheles mosquito. Malaria treatment is becoming more challenging due to rising resistance against the antimalarial drug, chloroquine. Novel compounds that target aspects of parasite development are being explored in attempts to overcome this wide-spread problem. Anti-malarial drugs target specific aspects of parasite growth and development within the human host. One of the most effective targets is the inhibition of hematin formation, either through inhibition of cysteine proteases or through iron chelation. Metal-thiosemicarbazone (TSC) complexes have been tested for antimalarial efficacy against drug-sensitive and drug-resistant strains of P. falciparum. An array of TSC complexes with numerous transition metals, including ruthenium, palladium, and gold has displayed antiplasmodial activity. Au(I)- and Pd(II)-TSC complexes displayed the greatest potency; 4-amino-7-chloroquine moieties were also found to improve antiplasmodial activity of TSCs. Although promising metal-TSC drug candidates have been tested against laboratory strains of P. falciparum, problems arise when attempting to compare between studies. Future work should strive to completely characterize synthesized metal-TSC structures and assess antiplasmodial potency against several drug-sensitive and drugresistant strains. Future studies need to precisely determine IC50 values for antimalarial drugs, chloroquine and ferroquine, to establish accurate standard values. This will make future comparisons across studies more feasible and potentially help reveal structure-function relationships. Investigations that attempt to link drug structures or properties to antiplasmodial mechanism(s) of action will aid in the design of antimalarial drugs that may combat rising drug resistance.


Antimalarial drugs, anti-Plasmodium drugs, thiosemicarbazone metal complexes, drug mechanism of action, structural chemistry of metal-thiosemicarbazones, transition metal complexes, heavy metal complexes, metallodrugs.


Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5C9

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