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1.  Development of Dual PLD1/2 and PLD2 Selective Inhibitors From a Common 1,3,8-Triazaspiro[4.5]decane Core: Discovery of ML298 and ML299 that Decrease Invasive Migration in U87-MG Glioblastoma Cells 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(6):2695-2699.
An iterative parallel synthesis effort identified a PLD2 selective inhibitor, ML298 (PLD1 IC50 >20,000 nM, PLD2 IC50 = 355 nM) and a dual PLD1/2 inhibitor, ML299 (PLD1 IC50 = 6 nM, PLD2 IC50 = 20 nM). SAR studies revealed a small structural change (incorporation of a methyl group) increased PLD1 activity within this classically PLD2-preferring core, and that the effect was enantiospecific. Both probes decreased invasive migration in U87-MG glioblastoma cells.
doi:10.1021/jm301782e
PMCID: PMC3632306  PMID: 23445448
Phospholipase D; PLD1; PLD2; ML299; ML298; MLPCN probe
2.  Synthesis and biological characterization of a series of novel diaryl amide M1 antagonists 
Utilizing a combination of high-throughput and multi-step synthesis, SAR in a novel series of M1 acetylcholine receptor antagonists was rapidly established. The efforts led to the discovery the highly potent M1 antagonists 6 (VU0431263), and 8f (VU0433670). Functional Schild analysis and radioligand displacement experiments demonstrated the competitive, orthosteric binding of these compounds; human selectivity data are presented.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.09.011
PMCID: PMC3897205  PMID: 23062550
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1 antagonist; VU0433670; VU0431263; Fluorination
3.  Development of novel M1 antagonist scaffolds through the continued optimization of the MLPCN probe ML012 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2012;22(15):10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.06.018.
This Letter describes the continued optimization of an MLPCN probe molecule M1 antagonist (ML012) through an iterative parallel synthesis approach. After several rounds of modifications of the parent compound, we arrived at a new azetidine scaffold that displayed improved potency while maintaining a desirable level of selectivity over other muscarinic receptor subtypes. Data for representative molecules 7w (VU0452865) and 12a (VU0455691) are presented.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.06.018
PMCID: PMC3883446  PMID: 22749871
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1 Antagonist; ML012; VU0455691; VU0452865
4.  Development of an in vivo active, dual EP1 and EP3 selective antagonist based on a novel acyl sulfonamide bioisostere 
Recent preclinical studies demonstrate a role for the prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) subtype 1 (EP1) receptor in mediating, at least in part, the pathophysiology of hypertension and diabetes mellitus. A series of amide and N-acylsulfonamide analogs of a previously described picolinic acid-based human EP1 receptor antagonist (7) were prepared. Each analog had improved selectivity at the mouse EP1 receptor over the mouse thromboxane receptor (TP). A subset of analogs gained affinity for the mouse PGE2 subtype 3 (EP3) receptor, another potential therapeutic target. One analog (17) possessed equal selectivity for EP1 and EP3, displayed a sufficient in vivo residence time in mice, and lacked the potential for acyl glucuronide formation common to compound 7. Treatment of mice with 17 significantly attenuated the vasopressor activity resulting from an acute infusion of EP1 and EP3 receptor agonists. Compound 17 represents a potentially novel therapeutic in the treatment of hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.11.046
PMCID: PMC3534858  PMID: 23218714
Prostaglandin E2; EP1; EP3; Antagonist
5.  Targeting Selective Activation of M1 for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: Further Chemical Optimization and Pharmacological Characterization of the M1 Positive Allosteric Modulator ML169 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2012;3(11):884-895.
The M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor is thought to play an important role in memory and cognition, making it a potential target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and schizophrenia. Moreover, M1 interacts with BACE1 and regulates its proteosomal degradation, suggesting selective M1 activation could afford both palliative cognitive benefit as well as disease modification in AD. A key challenge in targeting the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors is achieving mAChR subtype selectivity. Our lab has previously reported the M1 selective positive allosteric modulator ML169. Herein we describe our efforts to further optimize this lead compound by preparing analogue libraries and probing novel scaffolds. We were able to identify several analogues that possessed submicromolar potency, with our best example displaying an EC50 of 310 nM. The new compounds maintained complete selectivity for the M1 receptor over the other subtypes (M2–M5), displayed improved DMPK profiles, and potentiated the carbachol (CCh)-induced excitation in striatal MSNs. Selected analogues were able to potentiate CCh-mediated nonamyloidogenic APPsα release, further strengthening the concept that M1 PAMs may afford a disease-modifying role in the treatment of AD.
doi:10.1021/cn300068s
PMCID: PMC3503349  PMID: 23173069
Muscarinic; acetylcholine; positive allosteric modulator (PAM); ML169; Alzheimer’s disease (AD); medium spiny neurons (MSNs); MLPCN
6.  Further optimization of the K-Cl cotransporter KCC2 antagonist ML077: Development of a highly selective and more potent in vitro probe 
Further chemical optimization of the MLSCN/MLPCN probe ML077 (KCC2 IC50 = 537 nM) proved to be challenging as the effort was characterized by steep SAR. However, a multidimensional iterative parallel synthesis approach proved productive. Herein we report the discovery and SAR of an improved novel antagonist (VU0463271) of the neuronal-specific potassium-chloride cotransporter 2 (KCC2), with an IC50 of 61 nM and >100-fold selectivity versus the closely related Na-K-2Cl cotransporter 1 (NKCC1) and no activity in a larger panel of GPCRs, ion channels and transporters.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.05.126
PMCID: PMC3389279  PMID: 22727639
Potassium-chloride co-transporter 2; KCC2; NKCC1; antagonist
7.  Development of a novel, CNS-penetrant, metabotropic glutamate receptor 3 (mGlu3) NAM probe (ML289) derived from a closely related mGlu5 PAM 
Herein we report the discovery and SAR of a novel metabotropic glutamate receptor 3 (mGlu3) NAM probe (ML289) with 15-fold selectivity versus mGlu2. The mGlu3 NAM was discovered via a ‘molecular switch’ from a closely related, potent mGlu5 positive allosteric modulator (PAM), VU0092273. This NAM (VU0463597, ML289) displays an IC50 value of 0.66 μM and is inactive against mGlu5. 2012
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.04.112
PMCID: PMC3365510  PMID: 22607673
metabotropic glutamate receptor 3; mGlu3; molecular switch; NAM
8.  Continued optimization of the MLPCN probe ML071 into highly potent agonists of the hM1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 
This Letter describes the continued optimization of the MLPCN probe molecule ML071. After introducing numerous cyclic constraints and novel substitutions throughout the parent structure, we produced a number of more highly potent agonists of the M1 mACh receptor. While many novel agonists demonstrated a promising ability to increase soluble APPα release, further characterization indicated they may be functioning as bitopic agonists. These results and the implications of a bitopic mode of action are presented.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.03.088
PMCID: PMC3348459  PMID: 22507963
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1; Allosteric; Agonist; Bitopic; ML071; VU0364572
9.  Temporal changes of cytochrome P450 (Cyp) and eicosanoid-related gene expression in the rat brain after traumatic brain injury 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:303.
Background
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) induces arachidonic acid (ArA) release from cell membranes. ArA metabolites form a class of over 50 bioactive eicosanoids that can induce both adaptive and/or maladaptive brain responses. The dynamic metabolism of ArA to eicosanoids, and how they affect the injured brain, is poorly understood due to their diverse activities, trace levels, and short half-lives. The eicosanoids produced in the brain postinjury depend upon the enzymes present locally at any given time. Eicosanoids are synthesized by heme-containing enzymes, including cyclooxygenases, lipoxygenases, and arachidonate monoxygenases. The latter comprise a subset of the cytochrome P450 “Cyp” gene family that metabolize fatty acids, steroids, as well as endogenous and exogenous toxicants. However, for many of these genes neither baseline neuroanatomical nor injury-related temporal expression have been studied in the brain.
In a rat model of parietal cortex TBI, Cyp and eicosanoid-related mRNA levels were determined at 6 h, 24 h, 3d, and 7d postinjury in parietal cortex and hippocampus, where dynamic changes in eicosanoids have been observed. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction with low density arrays were used to assay 62 rat Cyps, 37 of which metabolize ArA or other unsaturated fatty acids; 16 eicosanoid-related enzymes that metabolize ArA or its metabolites; 8 eicosanoid receptors; 5 other inflammatory- and recovery-related genes, plus 2 mouse Cyps as negative controls and 3 highly expressed “housekeeping” genes.
Results
Sixteen arachidonate monoxygenases, 17 eicosanoid-related genes, and 12 other Cyps were regulated in the brain postinjury (p < 0.05, Tukey HSD). Discrete tissue levels and distinct postinjury temporal patterns of gene expression were observed in hippocampus and parietal cortex.
Conclusions
The results suggest complex regulation of ArA and other lipid metabolism after TBI. Due to the temporal nature of brain injury-induced Cyp gene induction, manipulation of each gene (or its products) at a given time after TBI will be required to assess their contributions to secondary injury and/or recovery. Moreover, a better understanding of brain region localization and cell type-specific expression may be necessary to deduce the role of these eicosanoid-related genes in the healthy and injured brain.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-303
PMCID: PMC3658912  PMID: 23642095
Cytochrome P450 genes; Arachidonic acid metabolic genes; Hippocampus; Parietal cortex; qPCR low density array; In situ hybridization
10.  Development of a more highly selective M1 antagonist from the continued optimization of the MLPCN Probe ML012 
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.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.11.110
PMCID: PMC3434972  PMID: 22197142
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1; Antagonist; ML012; VU0415248
11.  The Discovery and Characterization of ML218: A Novel, Centrally Active T-Type Calcium Channel Inhibitor with Robust Effects in STN Neurons and in a Rodent Model of Parkinson’s Disease 
ACS chemical neuroscience  2011;2(12):730-742.
T-type Ca2+ channel inhibitors hold tremendous therapeutic 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.
doi:10.1021/cn200090z
PMCID: PMC3285241  PMID: 22368764
T-Type calcium channel; inhibitor; electrophysiology; Parkinson’s disease
12.  The Discovery and Characterization of ML218: A Novel, Centrally Active T-Type Calcium Channel Inhibitor with Robust Effects in STN Neurons and in a Rodent Model of Parkinson’s Disease 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2011;2(12):730-742.
T-Type Ca2+ channel inhibitors hold tremendous therapeutic 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.
doi:10.1021/cn200090z
PMCID: PMC3285241  PMID: 22368764
T-Type calcium channel; inhibitor; electrophysiology; Parkinson’s disease
13.  Discovery, Synthesis, SAR Development of a Series of N-4-(2,5-dioxopyrrolidin-1-yl)-phenylpicolinamides (VU0400195, ML182): Characterization of a Novel Positive Allosteric Modulator of the Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 4 (mGlu4) with Oral Efficacy in an anti-Parkinsonian Animal Model 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(21):7639-7647.
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.
doi:10.1021/jm200956q
PMCID: PMC3226828  PMID: 21966889
metabotropic glutamate receptors; mGlu4; positive allosteric modulators; Parkinson’s disease; haloperidol-induced catalepsy; structure-activity relationship (SAR); oral efficacy; brain penetration
14.  Development of a Highly Selective, Orally Bioavailable and CNS Penetrant M1 Agonist Derived from the MLPCN Probe ML071 
Herein we report the discovery and SAR of a novel series of M1 agonists based on the MLPCN probe, ML071. From this, VU0364572 emerged as a potent, orally bioavailable and CNS penetrant M1 agonist with high selectivity, clean ancillary pharmacology and enantiospecific activity.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.08.084
PMCID: PMC3190051  PMID: 21930376
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; mAChR1 (M1); ML071; Allosteric agonist
15.  Children, parents, and pets exercising together (CPET) randomised controlled trial: study rationale, design, and methods 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:208.
Background
Objectively measured physical activity is low in British children, and declines as childhood progresses. Observational studies suggest that dog-walking might be a useful approach to physical activity promotion in children and adults, but there are no published public health interventions based on dog-walking with children. The Children, Parents, and Pets Exercising Together Study aims to develop and evaluate a theory driven, generalisable, family-based, dog walking intervention for 9-11 year olds.
Methods/design
The Children, Parents, and Pets Exercising Together Study is an exploratory, assessor-blinded, randomised controlled trial as defined in the UK MRC Framework on the development and evaluation of complex interventions in public health. The trial will follow CONSORT guidance. Approximately 40 dog-owning families will be allocated randomly in a ratio of 1.5:1 to receive a simple behavioural intervention lasting for 10 weeks or to a 'waiting list' control group. The primary outcome is change in objectively measured child physical activity using Actigraph accelerometry. Secondary outcomes in the child, included in part to shape a future more definitive randomised controlled trial, are: total time spent sedentary and patterning of sedentary behaviour (Actigraph accelerometry); body composition and bone health from dual energy x-ray absorptiometry; body weight, height and BMI; and finally, health-related quality of life using the PedsQL. Secondary outcomes in parents and dogs are: changes in body weight; changes in Actigraph accelerometry measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Process evaluation will consist of assessment of simultaneous child, parent, and dog accelerometry data and brief interviews with participating families.
Discussion
The Children, Parents, and Pets Exercising Together trial should be the first randomised controlled study to establish and evaluate an intervention aimed at dog-based physical activity promotion in families. It should advance our understanding of whether and how to use pet dogs to promote physical activity and/or to reduce sedentary behaviour in children and adults. The trial is intended to lead to a subsequent more definitive randomised controlled trial, and the work should inform future dog-based public health interventions such as secondary prevention interventions in children or adults.
Trial registration number
ISRCTN85939423
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-208
PMCID: PMC3381690  PMID: 22429665
Obesity; children; dogs; accelerometry; exercise; CPET
16.  Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Halogenated N-(2-(4-Oxo-1-phenyl-1,3,8-triazaspiro[4.5]decan-8-yl)ethylbenzamides: Discovery of an Isoform-Selective Small Molecule Phospholipase D2 (PLD2) Inhibitor 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(18):6706-6719.
Phospholipase D (PLD) catalyzes the conversion of phosphatidylcholine to the lipid second messenger phosphatidic acid. Two mammalian isoforms of PLD have been identified, PLD1 and PLD2, which share 53% sequence identity and are subject to different regulatory mechanisms. Inhibition of PLD enzymatic activity leads to increased cancer cell apoptosis, decreased cancer cell invasion and decreased metastasis of cancer cells; therefore, the development of isoform-specific, PLD inhibitors is a novel approach for the treatment of cancer. Previously, we developed potent dual PLD1/PLD2, PLD1-specific (>1,700-fold selective) and moderately PLD2 preferring (>10-fold preferring) inhibitors. Here, we describe a matrix library strategy that afforded the most potent (PLD2 IC50 = 20 nM) and selective (75-fold selective versus PLD1) PLD2 inhibitor to date, N-(2(1-(3-fluorophenyl)-4-oxo-1,3,8-triazaspiro[4.5]decan-8-yl)ethyl)-2-naphthamide (22a), with an acceptable DMPK profile. Thus, these new isoform-selective PLD inhibitors will enable researchers to dissect the signaling roles and therapeutic potential of individual PLD isoforms to an unprecedented degree.
doi:10.1021/jm100814g
PMCID: PMC3179181  PMID: 20735042
phospholipase D; PLD; cancer; isoform; allosteric
17.  Polyamine Catabolism Is Enhanced after Traumatic Brain Injury 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2010;27(3):515-525.
Abstract
Polyamines spermine and spermidine are highly regulated, ubiquitous aliphatic cations that maintain DNA structure and function as immunomodulators and as antioxidants. Polyamine homeostasis is disrupted after brain injuries, with concomitant generation of toxic metabolites that may contribute to secondary injuries. To test the hypothesis of increased brain polyamine catabolism after traumatic brain injury (TBI), we determined changes in catabolic enzymes and polyamine levels in the rat brain after lateral controlled cortical impact TBI. Spermine oxidase (SMO) catalyzes the degradation of spermine to spermidine, generating H2O2 and aminoaldehydes. Spermidine/spermine-N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) catalyzes acetylation of these polyamines, and both are further oxidized in a reaction that generates putrescine, H2O2, and aminoaldehydes. In a rat cortical impact model of TBI, SSAT mRNA increased subacutely (6–24 h) after TBI in ipsilateral cortex and hippocampus. SMO mRNA levels were elevated late, from 3 to 7 days post-injury. Polyamine catabolism increased as well. Spermine levels were normal at 6 h and decreased slightly at 24 h, but were normal again by 72 h post-injury. Spermidine levels also decreased slightly (6–24 h), then increased by ∼50% at 72 h post-injury. By contrast, normally low putrescine levels increased up to sixfold (6–72 h) after TBI. Moreover, N-acetylspermidine (but not N-acetylspermine) was detectable (24–72 h) near the site of injury, consistent with increased SSAT activity. None of these changes were seen in the contralateral hemisphere. Immunohistochemical confirmation indicated that SSAT and SMO were expressed throughout the brain. SSAT-immunoreactivity (SSAT-ir) increased in both neuronal and nonneuronal (likely glial) populations ipsilateral to injury. Interestingly, bilateral increases in cortical SSAT-ir neurons occurred at 72 h post-injury, whereas hippocampal changes occurred only ipsilaterally. Prolonged increases in brain polyamine catabolism are the likely cause of loss of homeostasis in this pathway. The potential for simple therapeutic interventions (e.g., polyamine supplementation or inhibition of polyamine oxidation) is an exciting implication of these studies.
doi:10.1089/neu.2009.1097
PMCID: PMC2867553  PMID: 19968558
brain injuries; colocalization immunofluorescence; gene expression; polyamine back-conversion; polyamine quantification; polyamine therapeutic potential; spermine oxidase (SMO); spermidine/spermine-N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT); time course
18.  Targeting the Mechanisms of Resistance to Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy with the Cancer Stem Cell Hypothesis 
Journal of Oncology  2010;2011:941876.
Despite advances in treatment, cancer remains the 2nd most common cause of death in the United States. Poor cure rates may result from the ability of cancer to recur and spread after initial therapies have seemingly eliminated detectable signs of disease. A growing body of evidence supports a role for cancer stem cells (CSCs) in tumor regrowth and spread after initial treatment. Thus, targeting CSCs in combination with traditional induction therapies may improve treatment outcomes and survival rates. Unfortunately, CSCs tend to be resistant to chemo- and radiation therapy, and a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying CSC resistance to treatment is necessary. This paper provides an update on evidence that supports a fundamental role for CSCs in cancer progression, summarizes potential mechanisms of CSC resistance to treatment, and discusses classes of drugs currently in preclinical or clinical testing that show promise at targeting CSCs.
doi:10.1155/2011/941876
PMCID: PMC2958340  PMID: 20981352

Results 1-18 (18)