Congo red analogues as potential anti-prion agents

Stefania Villa, Giorgio Cignarella, Daniela Barlocco, Marco Gervasoni, Gabriella Carcassola, Laura Giannino, Paolo Mantegazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


'Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies' (TSE) are a group of degenerative, progressive and fatal disorders of CNS which affect both humans and animals, characterised by a long incubation time. The pathogenetic mechanism in TSE is the conversion of normal prion protein (PrPsen) to an altered protease resistant isoform (PrPres) that accumulates in amyloid deposits into the brain; therefore, PrPres is the primary target for therapeutic strategies. The discovery that the sulphonated azo dye Congo red (CR) is able to inhibit the replications of TSE agents and the accumulation of PrPres in animals and in scrapie infected mouse neuroblastoma cells induced us to designe molecules structurally related to CR (1a-f, 2f,g). The compounds were tested in vitro to evaluate their interaction with 263K PrPres. Six of the tested compounds were found to interact with PrPres molecules and to over-stabilise the PrPres aggregates, as CR does. However, none of them induced the reversion of PrP res to PrPsen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-937
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2003


  • Anti-prion-molecules
  • Congo red
  • Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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