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1.  Utilization of an In Vivo Reporter for High Throughput Identification of Branched Small Molecule Regulators of Hypoxic Adaptation 
Chemistry & biology  2010;17(4):380-391.
Summary
Small molecules inhibiting hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) prolyl hydroxylases (PHDs) are the focus of drug development efforts directed toward the treatment of ischemia and metabolic imbalance. A cell-based reporter produced by fusing HIF-1α oxygen degradable domain (ODD) to luciferase was shown to work as a capture assay monitoring stability of the overexpressed luciferase-labeled HIF PHD substrate under conditions more physiological than in vitro test tubes. High throughput screening identified novel catechol and oxyquinoline pharmacophores with a “branching motif” immediately adjacent to a Fe-binding motif that fits selectively into the HIF PHD active site in in silico models. In accord with their structure-activity relationship in the primary screen, the best “hits” stabilize HIF1α, upregulate known HIF target genes in a human neuronal line, and exert neuroprotective effects in established model of oxidative stress in cortical neurons.
doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2010.03.008
PMCID: PMC4327942  PMID: 20416509
2.  Characterization of Maleimide-Based Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (GSK-3) Inhibitors as Stimulators of Steroidogenesis 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(12):5115-5129.
Inhibition of GSK-3β has been well documented to account for the behavioral actions of the mood stabilizer lithium in various animal models of mood disorders. Recent studies have showed that genetic or pharmacological inhibition of GSK-3β resulted in anxiolytic-like and pro-social behavior. In our ongoing efforts to develop GSK-3β inhibitors for the treatment of mood disorders, SAR studies on maleimide-based compounds were undertaken. We present herein for the first time that some of these GSK-3β inhibitors, in particular analogs 1 and 9, were able to stimulate progesterone production in the MA-10 mouse tumor Leydig cell model of steroidogenesis without any significant toxicity. These two compounds were tested in the SmartCube® behavioral assay and showed anxiolytic-like signatures following daily dose administration (50 mg/kg, i.p.) for 13 days. Taken together, these results support the hypothesis that GSK-3β inhibition could influence neuroactive steroid production thereby mediating the modulation of anxiety-like behavior in vivo.
doi:10.1021/jm400511s
PMCID: PMC3777810  PMID: 23725591
kinase inhibitor; GSK-3; maleimides; steroidogenesis; lithium; anxiolytic
3.  Discrimination of Potent Inhibitors of Toxoplasma gondii Enoyl-Acyl Carrier Protein Reductase by Thermal Shift Assay 
Biochemistry  2013;52(51):9155-9166.
Many microbial pathogens rely on a type II fatty acid synthesis (FASII) pathway which is distinct from the type I pathway found in humans. Enoyl-Acyl Carrier Protein Reductase (ENR) is an essential FASII pathway enzyme and the target of a number of antimicrobial drug discovery efforts. The biocide triclosan is established as a potent inhibitor of ENR and has been the starting point for medicinal chemistry studies. We evaluated a series of triclosan analogs for their ability to inhibit the growth of Toxoplasma gondii, a pervasive human pathogen, and its ENR enzyme (TgENR). Several compounds were identified that inhibited TgENR at low nanomolar concentrations, but could not be further differentiated due to the limited dynamic range of the TgENR activity assay. Thus, we adapted a thermal shift assay (TSA) to directly measure the dissociation constant (Kd) of the most potent inhibitors identified in this study as well as inhibitors from previous studies. Furthermore, the TSA allowed us to determine the mode of action of these compounds in the presence of NADH or NAD+ cofactors. We found that all of the inhibitors bind to a TgENR/NAD+ complex, but that they differed in their dependence on NAD+ concentration. Ultimately, we were able to identify compounds which bind to the TgENR/NAD+ complex in the low femtomolar range. This shows how TSA data combined with enzyme inhibition, parasite growth inhibition data and ADMET predictions allow for better discrimination between potent ENR inhibitors for future medicine development.
doi:10.1021/bi400945y
PMCID: PMC3953223  PMID: 24295325
4.  The potent and selective α4β2*/α6*-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor partial agonist 2-[5-[5-((S)Azetidin-2-ylmethoxy)-3-pyridinyl]-3-isoxazolyl]ethanol demonstrates antidepressive-like behavior in animal models and a favorable ADME-tox profile 
Preclinical and clinical studies demonstrated that the inhibition of cholinergic supersensitivity through nicotinic antagonists and partial agonists can be used successfully to treat depressed patients, especially those who are poor responders to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). In our effort to develop novel antidepressant drugs, LF-3-88 was identified as a potent nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) partial agonist with subnanomolar to nanomolar affinities for β2-containing nAChRs (α2β2, α3β2, α4β2, and α4β2*) and superior selectivity away from α3β4 − (Ki > 104 nmol/L) and α7-nAChRs (Ki > 104 nmol/L) as well as 51 other central nervous system (CNS)-related neurotransmitter receptors and transporters. Functional activities at different nAChR subtypes were characterized utilizing 86Rb+ ion efflux assays, two-electrode voltage-clamp (TEVC) recording in oocytes, and whole-cell current recording measurements. In mouse models, administration of LF-3-88 resulted in antidepressive-like behavioral signatures 15 min post injection in the SmartCube® test (5 and 10 mg/kg, i.p.; about 45-min session), decreased immobility in the forced swim test (1–3 mg/kg, i.p.; 1–10 mg/kg, p.o.; 30 min pretreatment, 6-min trial), and decreased latency to approach food in the novelty-suppressed feeding test after 29 days chronic administration once daily (5 mg/kg but not 10 mg/kg, p.o.; 15-min trial). In addition, LF-3-88 exhibited a favorable profile in pharmacokinetic/ADME-Tox (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity) assays. This compound was also shown to cause no mortality in wild-type Balb/CJ mice when tested at 300 mg/kg. These results further support the potential of potent and selective nicotinic partial agonists for use in the treatment of depression.
doi:10.1002/prp2.26
PMCID: PMC4184702  PMID: 25505580
Antidepressive-like behavior; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; partial agonist; selectivity
5.  Modification of Triclosan Scaffold in Search of Improved Inhibitors for Enoyl-Acyl Carrier Protein (ACP) Reductase in Toxoplasma gondii 
ChemMedChem  2013;8(7):1138-1160.
Through our focused effort to discover new and effective agents against toxoplasmosis, a structure-based drug design approach was utilized to develop a series of potent inhibitors of the enoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) reductase (ENR) enzyme in Toxoplasma gondii (TgENR). Modifications to positions 5 and 4′ of the well-known ENR inhibitor triclosan afforded a series of 29 new analogs. Among the resulting compounds, many showed high potency and improved physicochemical properties in comparison with the lead. The most potent compounds 16a and 16c have IC50 values of 250 nM against Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites without apparent toxicity to the host cells. Their IC50 values against the recombinant TgENR were 43 and 26 nM, respectively. Additionally, 11 other analogs in this series had IC50 values ranging from 17 to 130 nM in the enzyme-based assay.
With respect to their excellent in vitro activity as well as improved drug-like properties, the lead compounds 16a and 16c are deemed to be an excellent starting point for the development of new medicines to effectively treat Toxoplasma gondii infections.
doi:10.1002/cmdc.201300050
PMCID: PMC3755765  PMID: 23776166
Enoyl Reductase; Inhibitors; Medicinal Chemistry; Toxoplasma gondii; triclosan
6.  Indoleamides are active against drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Nature communications  2013;4:2907.
Responsible for nearly two million deaths each year, the infectious disease tuberculosis remains a serious global health challenge. The emergence of multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis confounds control efforts, and new drugs with novel molecular targets are desperately needed. Here we describe lead compounds, the indoleamides, with potent activity against both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis by targeting the mycolic acid transporter MmpL3. We identify a single mutation in mmpL3 which confers high resistance to the indoleamide class while remaining susceptible to currently used first- and second-line tuberculosis drugs, indicating a lack of cross-resistance. Importantly, an indoleamide derivative exhibits dose-dependent anti-mycobacterial activity when orally administered to M. tuberculosis-infected mice. The bioavailability of the indoleamides, combined with their ability to kill tubercle bacilli, indicates great potential for translational developments of this structure class for the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
doi:10.1038/ncomms3907
PMCID: PMC3909880  PMID: 24352433
7.  Epigenetic Regulation of Autophagy by the Methyltransferase G9a 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(20):3983-3993.
Macroautophagy is an evolutionarily conserved cellular process involved in the clearance of proteins and organelles. Although the cytoplasmic machinery that orchestrates autophagy induction during starvation, hypoxia, or receptor stimulation has been widely studied, the key epigenetic events that initiate and maintain the autophagy process remain unknown. Here we show that the methyltransferase G9a coordinates the transcriptional activation of key regulators of autophagosome formation by remodeling the chromatin landscape. Pharmacological inhibition or RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated suppression of G9a induces LC3B expression and lipidation that is dependent on RNA synthesis, protein translation, and the methyltransferase activity of G9a. Under normal conditions, G9a associates with the LC3B, WIPI1, and DOR gene promoters, epigenetically repressing them. However, G9a and G9a-repressive histone marks are removed during starvation and receptor-stimulated activation of naive T cells, two physiological inducers of macroautophagy. Moreover, we show that the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway is involved in the regulation of autophagy gene expression during naive-T-cell activation. Together, these findings reveal that G9a directly represses genes known to participate in the autophagic process and that inhibition of G9a-mediated epigenetic repression represents an important regulatory mechanism during autophagy.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00813-13
PMCID: PMC3811684  PMID: 23918802
8.  Use of the Nitrile Oxide Cycloaddition (NOC) Reaction for Molecular Probe Generation: A New Class of Enzyme Selective Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors (HDACIs) Showing Picomolar Activity at HDAC6 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(15):4370-4373.
A series of hydroxamate based HDAC inhibitors containing a phenylisoxazole as the CAP group has been synthesized using nitrile oxide cycloaddition chemistry. An HDAC6 selective inhibitor having a potency of ∼2 picomolar was identified. Some of the compounds were examined for their ability to block pancreatic cancer cell growth and found to be about 10-fold more potent than SAHA. This research provides valuable, new molecular probes for use in exploring HDAC biology.
doi:10.1021/jm8002894
PMCID: PMC3913184  PMID: 18642892
9.  An optimized RAD51 inhibitor that disrupts homologous recombination without requiring Michael acceptor reactivity 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;56(1):254-263.
Homologous recombination (HR) is an essential process in cells that provides repair of DNA double-strand breaks and lesions that block DNA replication. RAD51 is an evolutionarily conserved protein that is central to HR. Overexpression of RAD51 protein is common in cancer cells and represents a potential therapeutic target in oncology. We previously described a chemical inhibitor of RAD51, called RI-1 (referred to as compound 1 in this report). The chloromaleimide group of this compound is thought to act as a Michael acceptor and react with the thiol group on C319 of RAD51, using a conjugate addition-elimination mechanism. In order to reduce the likelihood of off-target effects and to improve compound stability in biological systems, we developed an analog of compound 1 that lacks maleimide-based reactivity but retains RAD51 inhibitory activity. This compound, 1-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-3-(4-methoxyphenyl)-4-morpholino-1H-pyrrole-2,5-dione, named RI-2 (referred to as compound 7a in this report), appears to bind reversibly to the same site on the RAD51 protein as does compound 1. Like compound 1, compound 7a specifically inhibits HR repair in human cells.
doi:10.1021/jm301565b
PMCID: PMC3619390  PMID: 23231413
DNA repair; Homologous recombination; RAD51; medicinal chemistry; structure activity relationship
10.  Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Behavioral Studies Identify Chiral Cyclopropanes as Selective α4β2- Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Partial Agonists Exhibiting an Antidepressant Profile. Part II 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(13):10.1021/jm400510u.
A 3-pyridyl ether scaffold bearing a cyclopropane-containing side chain was recently identified in our efforts to create novel antidepressants that act as partial agonists at α4β2-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. In this study, a systematic structure-activity relationship investigation was carried out on both the azetidine moiety present in compound 3 and its right-hand side chain, thereby discovering a variety of novel nicotinic ligands that retain bioactivity and feature improved chemical stability. The most promising compounds 24, 26, and 30 demonstrated comparable or enhanced pharmacological profiles compared to the parent compound 4, and the N-methylpyrrolidine analogue 26 also exhibited robust antidepressant-like efficacy in the mouse forced swim test. The favorable ADMET profile and chemical stability of 26 further indicate this compound to be a promising lead as a drug candidate warranting further advancement down the drug discovery pipeline.
doi:10.1021/jm400510u
PMCID: PMC3843973  PMID: 23734673
11.  Pharmacokinetics and brain penetration of LF-3-88, (2-[5-[5-(2(S)-azetidinylmethoxyl)-3-pyridyl]-3-isoxazolyl]ethanol, a selective α4β2-nAChR partial agonist and promising antidepressant 
LF-3-88 (2-[5-[5-(2(S)-azetidinylmethoxyl)-3-pyridyl]-3-isoxazolyl] ethanol) was identified as a highly selective α4β2-nAChRs partial agonist, with a Ki value of 0.4 nM and EC50 value of 110 nM. A sensitive and selective ultra high pressure liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS-MS) method was developed and validated to study the pharmacokinetics profile of this compound in mice. Protein precipitation with acetonitrile was used to prepare the plasma and brain samples, and the recovery was greater than 90%. The inter-day and intra-day accuracy and precision of the quantitative method ranged from 95 % to 106 % for plasma and from 93 % to 105 % for brain homogenates. The precision of the assay was <10 %. The limit of detection and limit of quantitation were 0.5 ng/mL (1.8 nM) and 1 ng/mL (3.6 nM), respectively. LF-3-88 was stable (>93 %) for 24 h on the bench top at room temperature, and for at least 3 weeks at 4 °C and −80 °C. The UHPLC-MS-MS assay was applied to the measurement of plasma and brain levels of LF-3-88 following oral administration to male Balb/c mice. Plasma concentrations of LF-3-88 and brain levels were dose-dependent with half-lives of approximately 60 min and 180 min, respectively, indicating good oral bioavailability and penetration of the blood-brain barrier.
doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2012.11.011
PMCID: PMC3538945  PMID: 23246847
α4β2-nAChRs partial agonist; Antidepressant; UHPLC-MS-MS Pharmacokinetics; Quantitative analysis
12.  A selective histone deacetylase-6 inhibitor improves BDNF trafficking in hippocampal neurons from Mecp2 knockout mice: implications for Rett syndrome 
Rett syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in the transcriptional modulator methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2). One of the most prominent gene targets of MeCP2 is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf), a potent modulator of activity-dependent synaptic development, function and plasticity. Dysfunctional BDNF signaling has been demonstrated in several pathophysiological mechanisms of RTT disease progression. To evaluate whether the dynamics of BDNF trafficking is affected by Mecp2 deletion, we analyzed movements of BDNF tagged with yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in cultured hippocampal neurons by time-lapse fluorescence imaging. We found that both anterograde and retrograde vesicular trafficking of BDNF-YFP are significantly impaired in Mecp2 knockout hippocampal neurons. Selective inhibitors of histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) show neuroprotective effects in neurodegenerative diseases and stimulate microtubule-dependent vesicular trafficking of BDNF-containing dense core vesicles. Here, we show that the selective HDAC6 inhibitor Tubastatin-A increased the velocity of BDNF-YFP vesicles in Mecp2 knockout neurons in both directions by increasing α–tubulin acetylation. Tubastatin-A also restored activity-dependent BDNF release from Mecp2 knockout neurons to levels comparable to those shown by wildtype neurons. These findings demonstrate that a selective HDAC6 inhibitor is a potential pharmacological strategy to reverse cellular and synaptic impairments in RTT resulting from impaired BDNF signaling.
doi:10.3389/fncel.2014.00068
PMCID: PMC3945638  PMID: 24639629
Rett syndrome; dense core vesicle; activity-dependent BDNF release; Tubastatin-A; tubulin acetylation
13.  From α4β2 Nicotinic Ligands to the Discovery of σ1 Receptor Ligands: Pharmacophore Analysis and Rational Design 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2012;3(12):1054-1058.
Comparative analyses of the pharmacophoric elements required for σ1 and nicotinic ligands led to the identification of a potent and selective σ1 ligand (15). Compound 15 displayed high selectivity for the σ1 receptor (Ki, σ1 = 4.1 nM, Ki, σ2 = 1312 nM) with moderate binding affinity for the DAT (Ki = 373 nM) and NET (Ki = 203 nM) in the PDSP broad screening panel of common CNS neurotransmitter transporters and receptors. The key finding in this present work is that a subtle structural modifica tion could be used as a tool to switch a ligand’s selectivity between nAChRs and sigma receptors.
doi:10.1021/ml3002715
PMCID: PMC3638970  PMID: 23641311
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; sigma-1 receptor; alkoxyisoxazole; pharmacophore; broad screening
14.  From α4β2 Nicotinic Ligands to the Discovery of σ1 Receptor Ligands: Pharmacophore Analysis and Rational Design 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2012;3(12):1054-1058.
Comparative analyses of the pharmacophoric elements required for σ1 and nicotinic ligands led to the identification of a potent and selective σ1 ligand (15). Compound 15 displayed high selectivity for the σ1 receptor (Ki, σ1 = 4.1 nM; Ki, σ2 = 1312 nM) with moderate binding affinity for the DAT (Ki = 373 nM) and NET (Ki = 203 nM) in the PDSP broad screening panel of common CNS neurotransmitter transporters and receptors. The key finding in this present work is that a subtle structural modification could be used as a tool to switch a ligand’s selectivity between nAChRs and sigma receptors.
doi:10.1021/ml3002715
PMCID: PMC3638970  PMID: 23641311
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; sigma-1 receptor; alkoxyisoxazole; pharmacophore; broad screening
15.  Discovery of Highly Potent and Selective α4β2-Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor (nAChR) Partial Agonists Containing an Isoxazolylpyridine Ether Scaffold that Demonstrate Antidepressant-like Activity. Part II 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(22):9998-10009.
In our continued efforts to develop α4β2-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) partial agonists as novel antidepressants having a unique mechanism of action, structure activity relationship (SAR) exploration of certain isoxazolylpyridine ethers is presented. In particular, modifications to both the azetidine ring present in the starting structure 4 and its metabolically liable hydroxyl side chain substituent have been explored to improve compound druggability. The pharmacological characterization of all new compounds has been carried out using [3H]epibatidine binding studies together with functional assays based on 86Rb+ ion flux measurements. We found that the deletion of the metabolically liable hydroxyl group or its replacement by a fluoromethyl group not only maintained potency and selectivity, but also resulted in compounds showing antidepressant-like properties in the mouse forced swim test. These isoxazolylpyridine ethers appear to represent promising lead candidates in the design of innovative chemical tools containing reporter groups for imaging purposes and of possible therapeutics.
doi:10.1021/jm301177j
PMCID: PMC3532055  PMID: 23092294
16.  Selective histone deacetylase 6 inhibitors bearing substituted urea linkers inhibit melanoma cell growth 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(22):9891-9899.
The incidence of malignant melanoma has dramatically increased in recent years thus requiring the need for improved therapeutic strategies. In our efforts to design selective histone deactylase inhibitors (HDACI), we discovered that the aryl urea 1 is a modestly potent yet non-selective inhibitor. Structure activity relationship studies revealed that adding substituents to the nitrogen atom of the urea so as to generate compounds bearing a branched linker group results in increased potency and selectivity for HDAC6. Compound 5g shows low nanomolar inhibitory potency against HDAC6 and a selectivity of ~600-fold relative to the inhibition of HDAC1. These HDACIs were evaluated for their ability to inhibit the growth of B16 melanoma cells with the most potent and selective HDAC6I being found to decrease tumor cell growth. To the best of our knowledge, this work constitutes the first report of HDAC6 selective inhibitors that possess antiproliferative effects against melanoma cells.
doi:10.1021/jm301098e
PMCID: PMC3562128  PMID: 23009203
17.  A microenvironment-mediated c-Myc/miR-548m/HDAC6 amplification loop in non-Hodgkin B cell lymphomas 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(11):4612-4626.
A dynamic interaction occurs between the lymphoma cell and its microenvironment, with each profoundly influencing the behavior of the other. Here, using a clonogenic coculture growth system and a xenograft mouse model, we demonstrated that adhesion of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and other non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells to lymphoma stromal cells confers drug resistance, clonogenicity, and induction of histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6). Furthermore, stroma triggered a c-Myc/miR-548m feed-forward loop, linking sustained c-Myc activation, miR-548m downregulation, and subsequent HDAC6 upregulation and stroma-mediated cell survival and lymphoma progression in lymphoma cell lines, primary MCL and other B cell lymphoma cell lines. Treatment with an HDAC6-selective inhibitor alone or in synergy with a c-Myc inhibitor enhanced cell death, abolished cell adhesion–mediated drug resistance, and suppressed clonogenicity and lymphoma growth ex vivo and in vivo. Together, these data suggest that the lymphoma-stroma interaction in the lymphoma microenvironment directly impacts the biology of lymphoma through genetic and epigenetic regulation, with HDAC6 and c-Myc as potential therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1172/JCI64210
PMCID: PMC3809771  PMID: 24216476
18.  Insights into the Structural Determinants Required for High Affinity Binding of Chiral Cyclopropane-Containing Ligands to α4β2-Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors; An Integrated Approach to Behaviorally Active Nicotinic Ligands 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(18):8028-8037.
Structure-based drug design can potentially accelerate the development of new therapeutics. In this study, a co-crystal structure of the acetylcholine binding protein (AChBP) from Capitella teleta (Ct) in complex with a cyclopropane-containing, selective α4β2-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) partial agonist (compound 5) was acquired. The structural determinants required for ligand binding obtained from this AChBP X-ray structure were used to refine our previous model of the human α4β2-nAChR, thus possibly providing a better understanding of the structure of the human receptor. In order to validate the potential application of the structure of the Ct-AChBP in the engineering of new α4β2-nAChR ligands, homology modeling methods, combined with in silico ADME calculations, were used to design analogs of compound 5. The most promising compound 12, exhibited an improved metabolic stability in comparison to the parent compound 5 while retaining favorable pharmacological parameters together with appropriate behavioral endpoints in the rodent studies.
doi:10.1021/jm3008739
PMCID: PMC3464052  PMID: 22928944
19.  Biodistribution, Tumor Detection, and Radiation Dosimetry of 18F-DCFBC, a Low-Molecular-Weight Inhibitor of Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen, in Patients with Metastatic Prostate Cancer 
Prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) is a type II integral membrane protein expressed on the surface of prostate cancer (PCa) cells, particularly in androgen-independent, advanced, and metastatic disease. Previously, we demonstrated that N-[N-[(S)-1,3-dicarboxypropyl]carbamoyl]-4-18F-fluorobenzyl-Lcysteine (18F-DCFBC) could image an experimental model of PSMA-positive PCa using PET. Here, we describe the initial clinical experience and radiation dosimetry of 18F-DCFBC in men with metastatic PCa.
Methods
Five patients with radiologic evidence of metastatic PCa were studied after the intravenous administration of 370 MBq (10 mCi) of 18F-DCFBC. Serial PET was performed until 2 h after administration. Time- activity curves were generated for selected normal tissues and metastatic foci. Radiation dose estimates were calculated using OLINDA/EXM 1.1.
Results
Most vascular organs demonstrated a slow decrease in radioactivity concentration over time consistent with clearance from the blood pool, with primarily urinary radiotracer excretion. Thirty-two PET-positive suspected metastatic sites were identified, with 21 concordant on both PET and conventional imaging for abnormal findings compatible with metastatic disease. Of the 11 PET-positive sites not identified on conventional imaging, most were within the bone and could be considered suggestive for the detection of early bone metastases, although further validation is needed. The highest mean absorbed dose per unit administered radioactivity (µGy/MBq) was in the bladder wall (32.4), and the resultant effective dose was 19.9 ± 1.34 µSv/MBq (mean ± SD).
Conclusion
Although further studies are needed for validation, our findings demonstrate the potential of 18F-DCFBC as a new positron-emitting imaging agent for the detection of metastatic PCa. This study also provides dose estimates for 18F-DCFBC that are comparable to those of other PET radiopharmaceuticals such as 18F-FDG.
doi:10.2967/jnumed.112.104661
PMCID: PMC3742115  PMID: 23203246
prostate-specific membrane antigen; prostate cancer; 18F; urea; PET/CT
20.  Synthesis, Biological Evaluation and Structure-Activity Relationships of N-Benzoyl-2-hydroxybenzamides as Agents Active against P. falciparum (K1 strain), Trypanosomes, and Leishmania 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(7):3088-3100.
In our efforts to identify novel chemical scaffolds for the development of new antiprotozoal drugs, a compound library was screened against T. gondii tachyzoites with activity discovered for N-(4-ethylbenzoyl)-2-hydroxybenzamide 1a against T. gondii as described elsewhere.1 Synthesis of a compound set was guided by T. gondii SAR with 1r found to be superior for T. gondii, also active against Thai and Sierra Leone strains of P. falciparum, and with superior ADMET properties as described elsewhere.1 Herein, synthesis methods and details of the chemical analysis of the compounds in this series are described. Further, this series of N-benzoyl-2-hydroxybenzamides was re-purposed for testing against four other protozoan parasites: T. b. rhodesiense, T. cruzi, L. donovani, and P. falciparum (K1 isolate). Structure-activity analyses led to the identification of compounds in this set with excellent anti-leishmanial activity (compound 1d). Overall, compound 1r was the best and had activity 21-fold superior to that of the standard anti-malarial drug chloroquine against the K1 P. falciparum isolate.
doi:10.1021/jm2015183
PMCID: PMC3330251  PMID: 22352841
21.  Identification of Novel α4β2-Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor (nAChR) Agonists Based on an Isoxazole Ether Scaffold that Demonstrate Antidepressant-like Activity 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(2):812-823.
There is considerable evidence to support the hypothesis that the blockade of nAChR is responsible for the antidepressant action of nicotinic ligands. The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) antagonist, mecamylamine, has been shown to be an effective add-on in patients that do not respond to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This suggests that nAChR ligands may address an unmet clinical need by providing relief from depressive symptoms in refractory patients. In this study, a new series of nAChR ligands based on an isoxazole-ether scaffold have been designed and synthesized for binding and functional assays. Preliminary structure-activity relationship (SAR) efforts identified a lead compound 43, which possesses potent antidepressant-like activity (1 mg/kg, IP; 5 mg/kg, PO) in the classical mouse forced swim test. Early stage absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity (ADME-Tox) studies also suggested favorable drug-like properties, and broad screening towards other common neurotransmitter receptors indicated that compound 43 is highly selective for nAChRs over the other 45 neurotransmitter receptors and transporters tested.
doi:10.1021/jm201301h
PMCID: PMC3272775  PMID: 22148173
22.  Chemistry and Behavioral Studies Identify Chiral Cyclopropanes as Selective α4β2-Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Partial Agonists Exhibiting an Antidepressant Profile 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(2):717-724.
Despite their discovery in the early 20th century and intensive study over the last twenty years, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are still far from being well understood. Only a few chemical entities targeting nAChRs are currently undergoing clinical trials, and even fewer have reached the marketplace. In our efforts to discover novel and truly selective nAChR ligands, we designed and synthesized a series of chiral cyclopropane-containing α4β2-specific ligands that display low nanomolar binding affinities and excellent subtype selectivity, while acting as partial agonists at α4β2-nAChRs. Their favorable antidepressant-like properties were demonstrated in the classical mouse forced swim test. Preliminary ADMET studies and broad screening towards other common neurotransmitter receptors were also carried out to further evaluate their safety profile and eliminate their potential off-target activity. These highly potent cyclopropane ligands possess superior subtype selectivity compared to other α4β2-nAChR agonists reported to date, including the marketed drug varenicline, and therefore may fully satisfy the crucial prerequisite for avoiding adverse side effects. These novel chemical entities could potentially be advanced to the clinic as new drug candidates for treating depression.
doi:10.1021/jm201157c
PMCID: PMC3292870  PMID: 22171543
23.  Identification of a Maleimide-Based Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (GSK-3) Inhibitor, BIP-135, that Prolongs the Median Survival Time of Δ7 SMA KO Mouse Model of Spinal Muscular Atrophy 
ACS chemical neuroscience  2012;3(1):5-11.
The discovery of upregulated glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) in various pathological conditions has led to the development of a host of chemically diverse small molecule GSK-3 inhibitors, such as BIP-135. GSK-3 inhibition emerged as an alternative therapeutic target for treating spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) when a number of GSK-3 inhibitors were shown to elevate survival motor neuron (SMN) levels in vitro and to rescue motor neurons when their intrinsic SMN level was diminished by SMN-specific short hairpin RNA (shRNA). Despite their cellular potency, the in vivo efficacy of GSK-3 inhibitors has yet to be evaluated in an animal model of SMA. Herein, we disclose that a potent and reasonably selective GSK-3 inhibitor, namely BIP-135, was tested in a transgenic Δ7 SMA KO mouse model of SMA, and found to prolong the median survival of these animals. In addition, this compound was shown to elevate the SMN protein level in SMA patient-derived fibroblast cells as determined by western blot, and was neuroprotective in a cell-based, SMA-related model of oxidative stress-induced neurodegeneration.
doi:10.1021/cn200085z
PMCID: PMC3279955  PMID: 22348181
GSK-3 inhibitor; BIP-135; median survival; spinal muscular atrophy; survival motor neuron; Δ7 SMA KO mice
24.  Identification of a Maleimide-Based Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (GSK-3) Inhibitor, BIP-135, That Prolongs the Median Survival Time of Δ7 SMA KO Mouse Model of Spinal Muscular Atrophy 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2011;3(1):5-11.
The discovery of upregulated glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) in various pathological conditions has led to the development of a host of chemically diverse small molecule GSK-3 inhibitors, such as BIP-135. GSK-3 inhibition emerged as an alternative therapeutic target for treating spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) when a number of GSK-3 inhibitors were shown to elevate survival motor neuron (SMN) levels in vitro and to rescue motor neurons when their intrinsic SMN level was diminished by SMN-specific short hairpin RNA (shRNA). Despite their cellular potency, the in vivo efficacy of GSK-3 inhibitors has yet to be evaluated in an animal model of SMA. Herein, we disclose that a potent and reasonably selective GSK-3 inhibitor, namely BIP-135, was tested in a transgenic Δ7 SMA KO mouse model of SMA and found to prolong the median survival of these animals. In addition, this compound was shown to elevate the SMN protein level in SMA patient-derived fibroblast cells as determined by Western blot, and was neuroprotective in a cell-based, SMA-related model of oxidative stress-induced neurodegeneration.
doi:10.1021/cn200085z
PMCID: PMC3279955  PMID: 22348181
GSK-3 inhibitor; BIP-135; median survival; spinal muscular atrophy; survival motor neuron; Δ7 SMA KO mice
25.  Rational Drug Design Leading to the Identification of a Potent 5-HT2C Agonist Lacking 5-HT2B Activity 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2011;2(12):929-932.
The 5-HT2C receptor is an attractive drug target in the quest for new therapeutics to treat a variety of human disorders. We have previously undertaken a structural optimization campaign that has led to some potent and moderately selective 5-HT2C receptor agonists. After expanding our structure-function library, we were able to combine our datasets so as to allow the design of compounds of improved selectivity and potency. We disclose herein the structural optimization of our previously reported 5-HT2B/5-HT2C agonists, which has led to the identification of a highly selective 5-HT2C agonist, (+)-trans-[2-(2-cyclopropylmethoxyphenyl)cyclopropyl]methylamine hydrochloride, with an EC50 of 55 nM and no detectable agonism at the 5-HT2B receptor.
doi:10.1021/ml200206z
PMCID: PMC3390974  PMID: 22778800
Serotonin; 5-HT2C receptor; 5-HT2B receptor; Agonist; Hydrophobic interactions

Results 1-25 (60)