Griffith University

Leonardo Lucantoni

Name: Leonardo Lucantoni
Position: Research Fellow
Research Area: Malaria
Qualifications: BSc(Hons) PhD

Biography: After obtaining his degree in applied entomology, Leonardo completed his PhD in 2006 at the University of Camerino, Italy, where he studied the biological effects of natural products on malaria vectors. The focus of his work has been blocking the transmission of the malaria parasite. Using the in vivo model of the rodent malaria Plasmodium berghei and its vector Anopheles stephensi, he has investigated the curative and transmission-blocking properties of synthetic compounds and natural products derived from African and Asian traditional medicine. In 2011 Leonardo joined the Discovery Biology team, where he has developed a High-Throughput screening assay for the identification of compounds with inhibitory activity against all stages Plasmodium falciparum gametocytogenesis and screened more than 20,000 compounds. The work is progressing into the characterization of the transmission blocking activity of the screening hits.

Discovery Biology:


Butler NM, Hendra R, Bremner JB, Willis AC, Lucantoni L, Avery VM and Keller PA. Cascade reactions of indigo with oxiranes and aziridines: efficient access to dihydropyrazinodiindoles and spiro-oxazocinodiindoles. Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry. 2018 Aug 2018 Aug 22; 16(33): 6006-6016.

Buedenbender L, Robertson LP, Lucantoni L, Avery VM, Kurtböke Dİ, and Carroll AR. (2018) HSQC-TOCSY Fingerprinting-Directed Discovery of Antiplasmodial Polyketides from the Marine Ascidian-Derived Streptomyces sp. (USC-16018). Marine Drugs. May 30; 16(6): 189.

Vanaerschot M, Lucantoni L, Li T, Combrinck JM, Ruecker A, Kumar TRS, Rubiano K, Ferreira PE, Siciliano G, Gulati S, Henrich PP, Ng CL, Murithi JM, Corey VC, Duffy S, Lieberman OJ, Veiga MI, Sinden RE, Alano P, Delves MJ, Lee Sim K, Winzeler EA, Egan TJ, Hoffman SL, Avery VM and Fidock DA. (2017) Hexahydroquinolines are antimalarial candidates with potent blood-stage and transmission-blocking activity. Nature Microbiology. Aug 14; 2: 1403–1414.

Weidner T,  Lucantoni L,  Nasereddin A, Preu L,  Jones PG, Dzikowski R, Avery VM & Kunick C. (2017) Antiplasmodial dihetarylthioethers target the coenzyme A synthesis pathway in Plasmodium falciparum erythrocytes stages. Malaria Journal. May 15; 16(1): 192.

Lucantoni L, Loganathan S and Avery VM. (2017) The need to compare: assessing the level of agreement of three high-throughput assays against Plasmodium falciparum mature gametocytes. NATURE Scientific Reports. Apr 5; 7: 45992.

Pegoraro S, Duffey M, Otto TD, Wang Y, Rösemann R, Baumgartner R, Fehler SK, Lucantoni L, Avery VM, Moreno-Sabater A, Mazier D, Vial HJ, Strobl S, Sanchez CP and Lanzer M. (2017) SC83288 is a clinical development candidate for the treatment of severe malaria. Nature Communications. Jan 31; 8: 14193.

Fletcher S, Lucantoni L,  Sykes ML,  Jones AJ, Holleran JP,  Saliba KJ and  Avery VM. (2016) Biological characterization of chemically diverse compounds targeting the Plasmodium falciparum coenzyme A synthesis pathway. Parasites & Vectors. Nov 17; 9(1): 589.

Van Voorhis WC, Avery VM, Duffy S, Lucantoni L, Poulsen SA et al. (2016) Open Source Drug Discovery with the Malaria Box Compound Collection for Neglected Diseases and Beyond. PLOS Pathogens. Jul 28; 12(7): e1005763.

Lucantoni L, Fidock D and Avery VM. (2016) Luciferase-Based, High-Throughput Assay For Screening And Profiling Transmission-Blocking Compounds Against Plasmodium falciparum Gametocytes. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Mar 25; 60(4): 2097-2107.

Lucantoni L, Silvestrini F, Signore M, Siciliano G, Eldering M, Dechering KJ, Avery VM and P Alano. (2015) A simple and predictive phenotypic High Content Imaging assay for Plasmodium falciparum mature gametocytes to identify malaria transmission blocking compounds. Scientific Reports. Nov 10; 5: 16414.

Lucantoni L, Duffy S., Adjalley SH, Fidock SA, Avery, VM. (2013) Identification of MMV Malaria Box inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum early-stage gametocytes, using a luciferase-based high-throughput assay. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Dec; 57(12): 6050-6062.

Teguh SC, Klonis N, Duffy S, Lucantoni L, Avery VM, Hutton CA, Baell JB, Tilley L. (2013) Novel conjugated quinoline-indoles compromise Plasmodium falciparum mitochondrial function and show promising antimalarial activity. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2013 Aug 8; 56(15): 6200-6215.

Lucantoni L, Avery MV (2012) Whole-cell in vitro screening for gametocytocidal compounds. Future Medicinal Chemistry. [Invited review] 2012 December; 4(18): 2337-2360.


Chief Investigator, Griffith University New Researcher Grant (2013).

Travel Awards:

OzEMalaR – Australia Europe Malaria Research Cooperative Travel Award. (2014)

Selected abstracts/conferences:

Lucantoni L, Duffy S, Adjalley SH, Fidock SA, Avery VM. A High-throughput luciferase-based assay identifies inhibitors of developing Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes. ASTMH 62nd Annual Meeting, Washington DC, USA, 13th-17th November 2013. (poster presentation)

Lucantoni L, Duffy S, Adjalley SH, Fidock SA, Avery VM. High-throughput screening reveals different chemosensitivities of plasmodium falciparum developing gametocytes and asexual blood stages. Malaria in Melbourne, Melbourne, 14th-15th October 2013. (oral presentation)

Lucantoni L, Duffy S, Gulati S, Adjalley SH, Hoffman S, Fidock SA, Avery VM. Developing High-Throughput screens to identify P. falciparum gametocytocidal agents. Culture Systems for Malaria Meeting, Boston, USA, 3rd-4th April 2013. (poster presentation)



Gemma S, Camodeca C, Brindisi M, Brogi S, Kukreja G, Kunjir S, Gabellieri E, Lucantoni L, Habluetzel A, Taramelli D, Basilico N, Gualdani R, Tadini-Buoninsegni F, Bartolommei G, Moncelli MR, Martin RE, Summers RL, Lamponi S, Savini L, Fiorini I, Valoti M, Novellino E, Campiani G, Butini S. (2012). Mimicking the intramolecular hydrogen bond: synthesis, biological evaluation, and molecular modeling of benzoxazines and quinazolines as potential antimalarial agents. J Med Chem. 55(23):10387-404. doi: 10.1021/jm300831b

Fabris C, Ouédraogo RK, Coppellotti O, Dabiré RK, Diabaté A, Di Martino P, Guidolin L, Jori G, Lucantoni L, Lupidi G, Martena V, Sawadogo SP, Soncin M, Habluetzel A. (2012). Efficacy of sunlight-activatable porphyrin formulates on larvae of Anopheles gambiae M and S molecular forms and An. arabiensis: a potential novel biolarvicide for integrated malaria vector control. Acta Trop. 123(3):239-43. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2012.05.011

Yerbanga RS, Lucantoni L, Lupidi G, Dori GU, Tepongning NR, Nikiéma JB, Esposito F, Habluetzel A. (2012) Antimalarial plant remedies from Burkina Faso: Their potential for prophylactic use. J Ethnopharmacol. 140(2):255-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.01.014

Fabris C, Soncin M, Jori G, Habluetzel A, Lucantoni L, Sawadogo S, Guidolin L, Coppellotti O. (2012) Effects of a new photoactivatable cationic porphyrin on ciliated protozoa and branchiopod crustaceans, potential components of freshwater ecosystems polluted by  pathogenic agents and their vectors. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 11(2):294-301. doi: 10.1039/c1pp05154g

Lucantoni L, Magaraggia M, Lupidi G, Ouedraogo RK, Coppellotti O, Esposito F, Fabris C, Jori G, Habluetzel A. (2011) Novel, meso-substituted cationic porphyrin molecule for photo-mediated larval control of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 5(12):e1434. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001434

Tepongning RN, Lucantoni L, Nasuti CC, Dori GU, Yerbanga SR, Lupidi G, Marini C, Rossi G, Esposito F, Habluetzel A. (2011) Potential of a Khaya ivorensisAlstonia boonei extract combination as antimalarial prophylactic remedy. J Ethnopharmacol. 137(1):743-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.06.036

Chianese G, Yerbanga RS, Lucantoni L, Habluetzel A, Basilico N, Taramelli D, Fattorusso E, Taglialatela-Scafati O (2010). Antiplasmodial triterpenoids from the fruits of neem, Azadirachta indica. Journal of Natural Products 73(8): 1448-1452. doi: 10.1021/np100325q

Lucantoni L, Yerbanga RS, Lupidi G, Pasqualini L, Esposito F, Habluetzel A (2010). Transmission blocking activity of a standardized neem (Azadirachta indica) seed extract on the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei in its vector Anopheles stephensi. Malaria Journal 9:66. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-9-66

Dell’Agli M, Galli GV, Corbett Y, Taramelli D, Lucantoni L, Habluetzel A, Maschi O, Caruso D, Giavarini F, Romeo S, Bhattacharya D, Bosisio E (2009). Antiplasmodial activity of Punica granatum L. fruit rind. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 125(2):279-285. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.06.025

Habluetzel A, Lucantoni L, Esposito F (2009). Azadirachta indica as a public health tool for the control of malaria & other vector-borne diseases. Indian Journal of Medical Research 130(2):112-114.

Habluetzel A, Carnevali F, Lucantoni L, Grana L, Attili AR, Archilei F, Antonini M, Valbonesi A, Abbadessa V, Esposito F, van der Esch SA (2007). Impact of the botanical insecticide Neem Azal® on survival and reproduction of the biting louse Damalinia limbata on angora goats. Veterinary Parasitology 144: 328-337.

Lucantoni L, Giusti F, Cristofaro M, Pasqualini L, Esposito F, Lupetti P, Habluetzel A (2006). Effects of a neem extract on blood feeding, oviposition and oocyte ultrastructure in Anopheles stephensi Liston (Diptera: Culicidae). Tissue & Cell 38:361-371.


International patent application No. PCT/IB2011/054425 (07.10.2011). Composition comprising a photoactivatable larvicide

Italian patent application No. RM2010A000524 (08.10.2010). Composition comprising a photoactivatable larvicide.

Selected abstracts/conferences:

Ouédraogo RK, Fabris C, Sawadogo SP, Yerbanga SR, Lucantoni L, Diabaté A, Lupidi G, Coppellotti O, Jori G, Ouédraogo JB, Habluetzel A, Dabiré RK. Photolarvicidal diet formulations of a porphyrin derivate to potentiate malaria vector control. ASTMH 61st Annual Meeting, Atlanta, USA, 11th-15th November 2012. (poster)

Lucantoni L, Yerbanga RS, Lupidi G, Pasqualini L, Esposito F, Habluetzel A. Neem (Azadirachta indica) extracts reduce the parasitemia in Plasmodium berghei infected mice and block the development of the malaria parasite in its vector Anopheles stephensi. XXV Congresso Nazionale SoIPa, Pisa, Italy, 18th-21st June 2008. (presentation)

Lucantoni L, Habluetzel A, Ballarini A, Cocorocchio A, Lupidi G, Pasqualini L, Esposito F. Neem Azal®, a kernel extract of Azadirachta indica, blocks the transmission of the malaria parasites in the rodent model. World Neem Conference 2007, Coimbatore, India, 21st-24th  November 2007. (awarded the 3rd best poster prize)

Lucantoni L. Natural products for malaria vectors control: first results and perspectives. Malaria: il contributo italiano 100 anni dopo Camillo Golgi – Seminar. Brescia, Italy, 15th May 2006. (invited presentation)