This report describes the discovery and initial characterization of the first positive allosteric modulator of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype 5 (mAChR5 or M5). Functional HTS, identified VU0119498, which displayed micromolar potencies for potentiation of acetylcholine at M1, M3, and M5 receptors in cell-based Ca2+ mobilization assays. Subsequent optimization led to the discovery of VU0238429, which possessed an EC50 of approximately 1.16 µM at M5 with >30-fold selectivity versus M1 and M3, with no M2 or M4 potentiator activity.
Currently available therapeutic agents for treatment of schizophrenia target signaling by monoaminergic neurotransmitters; however, these treatments do not adequately treat the range of symptoms observed in patients. While these therapies treat the positive symptoms, they do not have efficacy in treating the negative symptoms and cognitive deficits that are associated with the disease. Evidence suggests that molecules that modulate signaling by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) could provide a more comprehensive treatment of schizophrenia than currently prescribed antipsychotics. Molecules that broadly increase ACh-signaling have been demonstrated to have efficacy in treating numerous symptom clusters in schizophrenia patients. Unfortunately, these compounds induce adverse effects via activation of peripheral receptors that limit their clinical utility. One proposed strategy for retaining the efficacy of cholinergic treatments, without the adverse effects, is to target specific cholinergic receptor subtypes in the brain. Several cholinergic receptors are able to modulate brain circuits that are dysregulated in schizophrenia patients including receptors belonging to both the muscarinic family (i.e., M1, M4, and M5), and the nicotinic family (i.e., α7, α4β2). Recently, great strides have been made in developing small molecules with high specificity for these receptors, and several of these novel molecules have robust efficacy in several preclinical models predictive of both anti-psychotic and pro-cognitive effectiveness. Promising studies suggest that targeting M1 and α7 may be beneficial for pro-cognitive effects, while molecules that target M4 may be ideally suited to address the positive symptoms. Since these receptor subtypes are distinct from those responsible for the adverse effects observed with non-selective cholinergic treatments, there is hope that molecules targeting these receptors could provide novel therapeutics. Further research is needed to examine the utility of such compounds as therapeutics that could be used either alone, or in combination with existing medications, to better treat schizophrenia.
Treatment options for schizophrenia that address all symptom categories (positive, negative, and cognitive) are lacking. Novel compounds that regulate signaling by the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, glutamate, are emerging as a novel approach for the treatment of this disorder. Currently available medications ameliorate positive symptoms but do not have efficacy in reducing negative symptoms or cognitive disturbances. It is possible that agents that target glutamatergic signaling in the CNS could have efficacy in reducing all major symptom clusters, providing a more comprehensive treatment strategy, and also avoiding some of the adverse effects that are seen with currently available treatments. Three major approaches for targeting glutamate signaling are now advancing in preclinical and clinical development. First are inhibitors for a transporter for glycine termed GlyT1. Glycine is a co-agonist with glutamate for a specific subtype of glutamate receptor, termed the NMDA receptor, which is thought to be critically involved in brain circuits that are disrupted in schizophrenia patients. Inhibiting GlyT1 increases glycine levels and can selectively increase NMDA receptor signaling. Another promising approach is to increase activity of another family of glutamate receptors, termed metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlus), which play important modulatory roles in brain circuits that are thought to be disrupted in schizophrenia patients. Activation of the group I (mGlu5) and the group II (mGlu2 and mGlu3) mGlus is hypothesized to normalize the disruption of aberrant signaling in these circuits. Novel drug-like molecules that increase activity of these receptors have robust efficacy in animal models that predict efficacy in treatment of schizophrenia. Early clinical studies provide some support for potential utility of these targets in reducing symptoms in schizophrenia patients. Clinical studies that are underway will provide further insights into the potential utility of these compounds in the treatment of multiple symptom domains in schizophrenia patients.
Herein we describe the discovery and development of a novel class of M4 positive allosteric modulators, culminating in the discovery of ML293. ML293 exhibited modest potency at the human M4 receptor (EC50 = 1.3 µM) and excellent efficacy as noted by the 14.6-fold leftward shift of the agonist concentration-response curve. ML293 was also selective versus the other muscarinic subtypes and displayed excellent in vivo PK properties in rat with low IV clearance (11.6 mL/min/kg) and excellent brain exposure (PO PBL, 10 mg/kg at 1 h, [Brain] = 10.3 µM, B:P = 0.85).
Positive allosteric modulator; M4; ML293; CNS penetration; Muscarinic receptor 4
negative allosteric modulator; mGlu5; structure-activity-relationship; artificial neural network, addiction
This Letter describes the continued optimization of an MLPCN probe molecule (ML012) through an iterative parallel synthesis approach. After exploring extensive modifications throughout the parent structure, we arrived at a more highly M1-selective antagonist, compound 13l (VU0415248). Muscarinic subtype selectivity across all five human and rat receptors for 13l, along with rat selectivity for the lead compound (ML012), is presented.
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1; Antagonist; ML012; VU0415248
This Letter describes the discovery, SAR and in vitro and in vivo pharmacological profile of a novel non-MPEP derived mGlu5 positive allosteric modulator (PAM) based upon an N-aryl piperazine chemotype. This mGlu5 chemotype exhibits the ability to act as either a non-competitive antagonist/negative allosteric modulator (NAM) or potentiator of the glutamate response depending on the identity of the amide substituent, i.e., a ‘molecular switch’. A rapidly optimized PAM, 10e (VU0364289), was shown to be potent and specific for the rat mGlu5 receptor and subsequently demonstrated to be efficacious in a clinically relevant rodent model predictive of anti-psychotic activity, thus providing the first example of a centrally active mGluR5 PAM optimized from an HTS-derived mGluR5 competitive antagonist.
mGluR; potentiator; positive allosteric modulator; schizophrenia; hyperlocomotion
Muscarinic and nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptors (mAChRs and nAChRs) are emerging as important targets for the development of novel treatments for the symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Preclinical and early proof-of-concept clinical studies have provided strong evidence that activators of specific mAChR (M1 and M4) and nAChR (α7 and α2β4) subtypes are effective in animal models of antipsychotic-like activity and/or cognitive enhancement, and in the treatment of positive and cognitive symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. While early attempts to develop selective mAChR and nAChR agonists provided important preliminary findings, these compounds have ultimately failed in clinical development due to a lack of true subtype selectivity and subsequent dose-limiting adverse effects. In recent years, there have been major advances in the discovery of highly selective activators for the different mAChR and nAChR subtypes with suitable properties for optimization as potential candidates for clinical trials. One novel strategy has been to identify ligands that activate a specific receptor subtype through actions at sites that are distinct from the highly conserved ACh-binding site, termed allosteric sites. These allosteric activators, both allosteric agonists and positive allosteric modulators, of mAChR and nAChR subtypes demonstrate unique mechanisms of action and high selectivity in vivo, and may provide innovative treatment strategies for schizophrenia.
acetylcholine; schizophrenia and antipsychotics; drug discovery and drug development; schizophrenia
T-Type Ca2+ channel inhibitors hold tremendous
potential for the treatment of pain, epilepsy, sleep disorders, essential
tremor, and other neurological disorders; however, a lack of truly
selective tools has hindered basic research, and selective tools from
the pharmaceutical industry are potentially burdened with intellectual
property (IP) constraints. Thus, an MLPCN high-throughput screen (HTS)
was conducted to identify novel T-type Ca2+ channel inhibitors
free from IP constraints, and freely available through the MLPCN,
for use by the biomedical community to study T-type Ca2+ channels. While the HTS provided numerous hits, these compounds
could not be optimized to the required level of potency to be appropriate
tool compounds. Therefore, a scaffold hopping approach, guided by
SurflexSim, ultimately afforded ML218 (CID 45115620), a selective
T-type Ca2+ (Cav3.1, Cav3.2, Cav3.3) inhibitor (Cav3.2, IC50 = 150 nM
in Ca2+ flux; Cav3.2 IC50 = 310 nM;
and Cav3.3 IC50 = 270 nM, respectively in patch
clamp electrophysiology) with good DMPK properties, acceptable in
vivo rat PK, and excellent brain levels. Electrophysiology studies
in subthalamic nucleus (STN) neurons demonstrated robust effects of
ML218 on the inhibition of T-type calcium current, inhibition of low
threshold spike, and rebound burst activity. Based on the basal ganglia
circuitry in Parkinson’s disease (PD), the effects of ML218
in STN neurons suggest a therapeutic role for T-type Ca2+ channel inhibitors, and ML218 was found to be orally efficacious
in haloperidol-induced catalepsy, a preclinical PD model, with comparable
efficacy to an A2A antagonist, a clinically validated PD
target. ML218 proves to be a powerful new probe to study T-type Ca2+ function in vitro and in vivo, and freely available.
T-Type calcium channel; inhibitor; electrophysiology; Parkinson’s disease
This Letter describes the hit-to-lead progression and SAR of a series of biphenyl acetylene compounds derived from an HTS screening campaign targeting the mGlu5 receptor. ‘Molecular switches’ were identified that modulated modes of pharmacology, and several compounds within this series were shown to be efficacious in reversal of amphetamine induced hyperlocomotion in rats after i.p. dosing, a preclinical model that shows similar positive effects with known antipsychotic agents.
There is an increasing amount of literature data showing the positive effects on preclinical anti-Parkinsonian rodent models with selective positive allosteric modulators of metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGlu4).1 However, most of the data generated utilize compounds that have not been optimized for drug-like properties and, as a consequence, they exhibit poor pharmacokinetic properties and thus do not cross the blood-brain barrier. Herein, we report on a series of N-4-(2,5-dioxopyrrolidin-1-yl)-phenylpicolinamides with improved PK properties with excellent potency and selectivity as well as improved brain exposure in rodents. Finally, ML182 was shown to be orally active in the haloperidol induced catalepsy model, a well-established anti-Parkinsonian model.
metabotropic glutamate receptors; mGlu4; positive allosteric modulators; Parkinson’s disease; haloperidol-induced catalepsy; structure-activity relationship (SAR); oral efficacy; brain penetration
Glutamate is the major excitatory transmitter in the mammalian CNS, exerting its effects through both ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors. The metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlus) belong to family C of the G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The eight mGlus identified to date are classified into three groups based on their structure, preferred signal transduction mechanisms, and pharmacology (Group I: mGlu1 and mGlu5; Group II: mGlu2 and mGlu3; Group III: mGlu4, mGlu6, mGlu7, and mGlu8). Non-competitive antagonists, also known as negative allosteric modulators (NAMs), of mGlu5 offer potential therapeutic applications in diseases such as pain, anxiety, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Parkinson's disease (PD), fragile X syndrome, and addiction. The development of SAR in a (3-cyano-5-fluorophenyl)biaryl series using our functional cell-based assay is described in this communication. Further characterization of a selected compound, 3-fluoro-5-(2-methylbenzo[d]thiazol-5-yl)benzonitrile, in additional cell based assays as well as in vitro assays designed to measure its metabolic stability and protein binding indicated its potential utility as an in vivo tool. Subsequent evaluation of the same compound in a pharmacokinetic study using intraperitoneal dosing in mice showed good exposure in both plasma and brain samples. The compound was efficacious in a mouse marble burying model of anxiety, an assay known to be sensitive to mGlu5 antagonists. A new operant model of addiction termed operant sensation seeking (OSS) was chosen as a second behavioral assay. The compound also proved efficacious in the OSS model and constitutes the first reported example of efficacy with a small molecule mGlu5 NAM in this novel assay.
mGlu5; negative allosteric modulator; non-competitive antagonist; addiction
Glutamate is the major excitatory transmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS), exerting its effects through both ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors. The metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlus) belong to family C of the G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The eight mGlus identified to date are classified into three groups based on their structure, preferred signal transduction mechanisms, and pharmacology (group I: mGlu1 and mGlu5; group II: mGlu2 and mGlu3; group III: mGlu4, mGlu6, mGlu7, and mGlu8). Noncompetitive antagonists, also known as negative allosteric modulators (NAMs), of mGlu5 offer potential therapeutic applications in diseases such as pain, anxiety, gastresophageal reflux disease (GERD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), fragile X syndrome, and addiction. The development of structure−activity relationships (SAR) in a (3-cyano-5-fluorophenyl)biaryl series using our functional cell-based assay is described in this communication. Further characterization of a selected compound, 3-fluoro-5-(2-methylbenzo[d]thiazol-5-yl)benzonitrile, in additional cell based assays as well as in vitro assays designed to measure its metabolic stability and protein binding indicated its potential utility as an in vivo tool. Subsequent evaluation of the same compound in a pharmacokinetic study using intraperitoneal dosing in mice showed good exposure in both plasma and brain samples. The compound was efficacious in a mouse marble burying model of anxiety, an assay known to be sensitive to mGlu5 antagonists. A new operant model of addiction termed operant sensation seeking (OSS) was chosen as a second behavioral assay. The compound also proved efficacious in the OSS model and constitutes the first reported example of efficacy with a small molecule mGlu5 NAM in this novel assay.
mGlu5; negative allosteric modulator; noncompetitive antagonist; addiction
This Letter describes a chemical lead optimization campaign directed at VU0108370, a weak M1 PAM hit with a novel chemical scaffold from a functional HTS screen within the MLPCN. An iterative parallel synthesis approach rapidly established SAR for this series and afforded VU0405652 (ML169), a potent, selective and brain penetrant M1 PAM with an in vitro profile comparable to the prototypical M1 PAM, BQCA, but with an improved brain to plasma ratio.
Herein we report the discovery, synthesis and evaluation of a series of N-(4-acetamido)-phenylpicolinamides as positive allosteric modulators of mGlu4.a Compounds from the series show submicromolar potency at both human and rat mGlu4. In addition, pharmacokinetic studies utilizing subcutaneous dosing demonstrated good brain exposure in rats.
This Letter describes the synthesis and SAR of a series of analogs of the mGlu5 partial antagonist 5-(phenylethynyl)pyrimidine. New molecular switches are identified that modulate the pharmacological activity of the lead compound. Slight structural modifications around the proximal pyrimidine ring change activity of the partial antagonist lead to that of potent and selective full negative allosteric modulators and positive allosteric modulators, that demonstrate in vivo efficacy in rodent models for anxiolytic activity and antipsychotic, respectively.
Cholinergic transmission in the forebrain is mediated primarily by five subtypes of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs), termed M1-M5. Of the mAChR subtypes, M1 is among the most heavily expressed in regions that are critical for learning and memory, and has been viewed as the most critical mAChR subtype for memory and attention mechanisms. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to develop selective activators of M1 and other individual mAChR subtypes, which has prevented detailed studies of the functional roles of selective activation of M1. Using a functional HTS screen and subsequent diversity-oriented synthesis approach we have discovered a novel series of highly selective M1 allosteric agonists. These compounds activate M1 with EC50 values in the 150 nM to 500 nM range and have unprecedented, clean ancillary pharmacology (no substantial activity at 10μM across a large panel of targets). Targeted mutagenesis revealed a potentially novel allosteric binding site in the third extracellular loop of the M1 receptor for these allosteric agonists. Optimized compounds, such as VU0357017, provide excellent brain exposure after systemic dosing and have robust in vivo efficacy in reversing scopolamine-induced deficits in a rodent model of contextual fear conditioning. This series of selective M1 allosteric agonists provides critical research tools to allow dissection of M1-mediated effects in the CNS and potential leads for novel treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
mAChR; muscarinic; allosteric; agonist; cognition
This Letter describes the first account of the synthesis and SAR, developed through an iterative analogue library approach, of analogues of the highly selective M1 allosteric agonist TBPB. With slight structural changes, mAChR selectivity was maintained, but the degree of partial M1 agonism varied considerably.
Development of SAR in a 3-cyano-5-fluoro-N-arylbenzamide series of non-competitive antagonists of mGlu5 using a functional cell-based assay is described in this letter. Further characterization of selected potent compounds in in vitro assays designed to measure their metabolic stability and protein binding is also presented. Subsequent evaluation of two new compounds in pharmacokinetic studies using intraperitoneal dosing in rats demonstrated good exposure in both plasma and brain samples.
Cholinergic transmission in the forebrain is mediated primarily
by five subtypes of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs), termed
M1−M5. Of the mAChR subtypes, M1 is among the most heavily expressed in regions that are critical
for learning and memory and has been viewed as the most critical mAChR
subtype for memory and attention mechanisms. Unfortunately, it has
been difficult to develop selective activators of M1 and
other individual mAChR subtypes, which has prevented detailed studies
of the functional roles of selective activation of M1.
Using a functional high-throughput screening and subsequent diversity-oriented
synthesis approach, we have discovered a novel series of highly selective
M1 allosteric agonists. These compounds activate M1 with EC50 values in the 150−500 nM range
and have unprecedented, clean ancillary pharmacology (no substantial
activity at 10 μM across a large panel of targets). Targeted
mutagenesis revealed a potentially novel allosteric binding site in
the third extracellular loop of the M1 receptor for these
allosteric agonists. Optimized compounds, such as VU0357017, provide
excellent brain exposure after systemic dosing and have robust in vivo efficacy in reversing scopolamine-induced deficits
in a rodent model of contextual fear conditioning. This series of
selective M1 allosteric agonists provides critical research
tools to allow dissection of M1-mediated effects in the
CNS and potential leads for novel treatments for Alzheimer’s
disease and schizophrenia.
mAChR; muscarinic; allosteric; agonist; cognition
[18F]fallypride PET studies can be used to estimate the non-displaceable binding potential (BPND) in vivo of dopamine D2/D3 receptor-rich regions of the brain. These studies often take considerable time, up to two or more hours, limiting the throughput. In this work, we investigated whether limited-duration scans performed subsequent to tracer administration yielded stable BPND estimates. In particular, we applied a modified version of the Logan plot method on the last 60 min of 120 min data and compared the results to those from analysis of the full data set.
Fourteen male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with [18F]fallypride intravenously while under isoflurane anesthesia and dynamic data were acquired on the microPET Focus 220 for 120 min. The distribution volume ratio (DVR = BPND + 1) was calculated from a Logan plot using 120 min of data and from a modified version using only the last 60 min. Three of these rats were imaged again on a second day to test the reproducibility. A two-tissue compartment model also was used to fit the time activity curves (TACs) of the 120 min scans to estimate the parameters K1, k2, kon, k4, and Bmax. These parameters then were used to simulate similar TACs while changing kon to reflect changes in the dopaminergic system. The simulated TACs were used as a means for exploring the differences in DVR estimates between the last 60 min only and the full 120 min of simulated data.
The average DVR from the full 120 min scans was 13.8 ± 0.9 whereas the average distribution volume ratio estimated from only the last 60 min of data (DVR′) was 16.3 ± 1.0. The distribution volume ratio estimates showed good reproducibility in the three rats (mean DVR = 13.8 ± 1.5 on Day 1 and DVR = 13.8 ± 0.9 on Day 2). The simulations showed that the relationship between DVR′ and DVR estimates follows a semi-linear form with varying kon.
Although the BPND estimates are slightly overestimated in a delayed scan mode (i.e. no initial radiotracer uptake measurements) compared to a full scan, this overestimation depends primarily on k3 (≈ kon × Bmax) and has been evaluated in this work for a wide range of kon values using simulated TACs. In particular, the sensitivity of DVR′ to changes in kon is similar to that of DVR. This method of delayed scans eliminates the necessity of imaging during the initial uptake of the radiotracer and, thus, can be used to increase the throughput of studies.
18F-fallypride; dopamine receptors; graphical analysis; kinetic modeling; microPET
In recent years, the metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors have emerged as potential new drug targets for treatment of a range of CNS disorders. Some of the most compelling advances have been made in targeting specific mGlu receptor subtypes as a fundamentally new approach to the treatment of schizophrenia. Recent animal and clinical studies provide strong evidence that agonists of group II mGlu receptors (mGluR2 and mGluR3) are effective in the treatment of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, and animal studies suggest that mGluR5 agonists could provide a novel approach for the treatment of all major symptom domains (positive, negative, and cognitive) of this disorder. Although the discovery of selective agonists of these receptors is a challenge, there have been recent advances in the discovery of highly selective positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of mGluR2 and mGluR5. These mGlu receptor-selective PAMs have properties needed for optimization as clinical candidates and have robust effects in animal models that predict efficacy in treatment of schizophrenia.
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) have long been viewed as viable targets for novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other disorders involving impaired cognitive function. More recent evidence indicates that mAChR activators might also have utility in treating psychosis and other symptoms associated with schizophrenia and other central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Efforts to develop mAChR subtype-selective agonists have been hampered by difficulty in achieving high selectivity for individual mAChR subtypes important for CNS function (M1 and M4) and adverse effects due to activation of peripheral mAChRs (especially M2 and M3). Major advances have now been achieved in the discovery of allosteric agonists and positive allosteric modulators of M1 and M4 that show greater selectivity for individual mAChR subtypes than do previous mAChR agonists. Early studies indicate that these allosteric mAChR activators have properties needed for optimization as potential clinical candidates and have robust effects in animal models that predict efficacy in the treatment of AD, schizophrenia and related disorders.
allosteric; muscarinic; potentiators; receptors; schizophrenia; structure–activity relationships