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1.  Novel GlyT1 inhibitor chemotypes by scaffold hopping. Part 1. Development of a potent and CNS penetrant [3.1.0]-based lead 
This letter describes the development and SAR of a novel series of GlyT1 inhibitors derived from a scaffold hopping approach that provided a robust intellectual property position, in lieu of a traditional, expensive HTS campaign. Members within this new [3.1.0]-based series displayed excellent GlyT1 potency, selectivity, free fraction, CNS penetration and efficacy in a preclinical model of schizophrenia (prepulse inhibition).
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2014.01.013
PMCID: PMC3951249  PMID: 24461352
GlyT1; Scaffold hopping; transporter; schizophrenia
2.  Discovery of VU0409106: A negative allosteric modulator of mGlu5 with activity in a mouse model of anxiety 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2013;23(21):10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.09.001.
Development of SAR in an aryl ether series of mGlu5 NAMs leading to the identification of tool compound VU0409106 is described in this Letter. VU0409106 is a potent and selective negative allosteric modulator of mGlu5 that binds at the known allosteric binding site and demonstrates good CNS exposure following intraperitoneal dosing in mice. VU0409106 also proved efficacious in a mouse marble burying model of anxiety, an assay known to be sensitive to mGlu5 antagonists as well as clinically efficacious anxiolytics.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.09.001
PMCID: PMC3846293  PMID: 24074843
3.  ML297 (VU0456810), the First Potent and Selective Activator of the GIRK Potassium Channel, Displays Antiepileptic Properties in Mice 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2013;4(9):1278-1286.
The G-protein activated, inward-rectifying potassium (K+) channels, “GIRKs”, are a family of ion channels (Kir3.1-Kir3.4) that has been the focus of intense research interest for nearly two decades. GIRKs are comprised of various homo- and heterotetrameric combinations of four different subunits. These subunits are expressed in different combinations in a variety of regions throughout the central nervous system and in the periphery. The body of GIRK research implicates GIRK in processes as diverse as controlling heart rhythm, to effects on reward/addiction, to modulation of response to analgesics. Despite years of GIRK research, very few tools exist to selectively modulate GIRK channels’ activity and until now no tools existed that potently and selectively activated GIRKs. Here we report the development and characterization of the first truly potent, effective, and selective GIRK activator, ML297 (VU0456810). We further demonstrate that ML297 is active in two in vivo models of epilepsy, a disease where up to 40% of patients remain with symptoms refractory to present treatments. The development of ML297 represents a truly significant advancement in our ability to selectively probe GIRK’s role in physiology as well as providing the first tool for beginning to understand GIRK’s potential as a target for a diversity of therapeutic indications.
doi:10.1021/cn400062a
PMCID: PMC3778424  PMID: 23730969
GIRK; G-protein; inward rectifier; potassium channel; epilepsy; activator
4.  Octahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole negative allosteric modulators of mGlu1 
Development of SAR in an octahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole series of negative allosteric modulators of mGlu1 using a functional cell-based assay is described in this Letter. The octahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole scaffold was chosen as an isosteric replacement for the piperazine ring found in the initial hit compound. Characterization of selected compounds in protein binding assays was used to identify the most promising analogs, which were then profiled in P450 inhibition assays in order to further assess the potential for drug-likeness within this series of compounds.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.07.029
PMCID: PMC3901432  PMID: 23932792
Glutamate; GPCR; mGlu1; Allosteric modulator; CNS; Octahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole
5.  Use of a novel rapid and resource-efficient cassette dosing approach to determine the pharmacokinetics and CNS distribution of small molecule 7-transmembrane receptor allosteric modulators in rat 
Approaches to efficiently and accurately define the pharmacokinetics (PK) of large sets of small molecules in rodents have been previously described. Likewise, a variety of methods for determining brain tissue distribution (BTD) have been reported for use in the discovery of therapeutics targeting the central nervous system (CNS). Herein we describe a novel cassette approach to efficiently obtain concurrent PK and BTD data from a dose of up to five compounds in one rat over 24 h. In conjunction with fraction unbound (fu) data obtained in plasma and brain homogenate, this approach serves as an efficient means to determine compound unbound brain:unbound plasma partition coefficients (Kp,uu), thereby providing insight to compounds bearing poor permeability and/or active transporter activity impacting their permeation of the blood–brain barrier (BBB). This integrated approach was utilized in a lead optimization effort towards the discovery of CNS-penetrant allosteric modulators of a seven-transmembrane (7TM) receptor target. Rat PK and brain distribution was rapidly obtained for 70 compounds and correlated to data obtained from in vitro assessments. Two compounds that were evaluated in cassette and discrete studies, displayed agreement in PK (compound 1: cassette CLp = 1.6 mL min−1 kg−1, discrete CLp = 1.6 mL min−1 kg−1; compound 2: cassette CLp = 11 mL min−1 kg−1, discrete CLp = 8.1 mL min−1 kg−1) and BTD (compound 1: cassette Kp = 0.11, discrete Kp = 0.09; compound 2: cassette Kp < 0.05, discrete Kp = 0.04). The resulting data were used to guide medicinal chemistry efforts and to enable the progression of optimized compounds to in vivo pharmacodynamic assessments.
doi:10.1002/prp2.77
PMCID: PMC4186453  PMID: 25505618
Cassette; pharmacokinetics; allosteric modulator; distribution
6.  Substituted 1-Phenyl-3-(pyridin-2-yl)urea Negative Allosteric Modulators of mGlu5: Discovery of a New Tool Compound VU0463841 with Activity in Rat Models of Cocaine Addiction 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2013;4(8):1217-1228.
Cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that disrupts the normal reward circuitry in the central nervous system (CNS), producing euphoric effects. Cocaine use can lead to acute and life threatening emergencies, and abuse is associated with increased risk for contracting infectious diseases. Though certain types of behavioral therapy have proven effective for treatment of cocaine addiction, relapse remains high, and there are currently no approved medications for the treatment of cocaine abuse. Evidence has continued to accumulate that indicates a critical role for the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGlu5) in the modulation of neural circuitry associated with the addictive properties of cocaine. While the small molecule mGlu5 negative allosteric modulator (NAM) field is relatively advanced, investigation into the potential of small molecule mGlu5 NAMs for the treatment of cocaine addiction remains an area of high interest. Herein we describe the discovery and characterization of a potent and selective compound 29 (VU0463841) with good CNS exposure in rats. The utility of 29 (VU0463841) was demonstrated by its ability to attenuate drug seeking behaviors in relevant rat models of cocaine addiction.
doi:10.1021/cn400070k
PMCID: PMC3750677  PMID: 23682684
mGlu5; negative allosteric modulator; noncompetitive antagonist; CNS; cocaine; addiction
7.  N-Acyl-N′-arylpiperazines as negative allosteric modulators of mGlu1: Identification of VU0469650, a potent and selective tool compound with CNS exposure in rats 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2013;23(13):10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.05.020.
Development of SAR in an N-acyl-N′-arylpiperazine series of negative allosteric modulators of mGlu1 using a functional cell-based assay is described in this Letter. Characterization of selected compounds in protein binding assays was used to aid in selecting VU0469650 for further profiling in ancillary pharmacology assays and pharmacokinetic studies. VU0469650 demonstrated an excellent selectivity profile and good exposure in both plasma and brain samples following intraperitoneal dosing in rats.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.05.020
PMCID: PMC3875306  PMID: 23727046
Glutamate; GPCR; mGlu1; Allosteric modulator; CNS; Piperazine
8.  Discovery of (R)-(2-fluoro-4-((-4-methoxyphenyl)ethynyl)phenyl) (3-hydroxypiperidin-1-yl)methanone (ML337), an mGlu3 Selective and CNS Penetrant Negative Allosteric Modulator (NAM) 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(12):5208-5212.
A multi-dimensional, iterative parallel synthesis effort identified a series of highly selective mGlu3 NAMs with sub-micromolar potency and good CNS penetration. Of these, ML337 resulted (mGlu3 IC50 = 593 nM, mGlu2 IC50 >30 μM) with B:P ratios of 0.92 (mouse) to 0.3 (rat). DMPK profiling and shallow SAR led to the incorporation of deuterium atoms to address a metabolic soft spot, which subsequently lowered both in vitro and in vivo clearance by >50%.
doi:10.1021/jm400439t
PMCID: PMC3769689  PMID: 23718281
Metabotropic glutamate receptor; mGlu3; negative allosteric modulator (NAM); ML337; MLPCN probe
9.  Enzymatic conversion of 6-nitroquinoline to the fluorophore 6-aminoquinoline selectively under hypoxic conditions 
Chemical research in toxicology  2013;26(4):555-563.
There is substantial interest in small molecules that can be used to detect or kill the hypoxic (low oxygen) cells found in solid tumors. Nitroaryl moieties are useful components in the design of hypoxia-selective imaging agents and prodrugs because one-electron reductases can convert the nitroaryl group to nitroso, hydroxylamino, and amino metabolites selectively under low oxygen conditions. Here we describe the in vitro, cell free metabolism of a pro-fluorescent substrate, 6-nitroquinoline (1) under both aerobic and hypoxic conditions. Both LC-MS and fluorescence spectroscopic analysis provided evidence that the one-electron reducing enzyme system, xanthine/xanthine oxidase, converted the nonfluorescent parent compound 1 to the known fluorophore 6-aminoquinoline (2) selectively under hypoxic conditions. The presumed intermediate in this reduction process, 6-hydroxylaminoquinoline (6) is fluorescent and can be efficiently converted by xanthine/xanthine oxidase to 2 only under hypoxic conditions. This finding provides evidence for multiple oxygen-sensitive steps in the enzymatic conversion of nitroaryl compounds to the corresponding amino derivatives. In a side reaction that is separate from the bioreductive metabolism of 1, xanthine oxidase converted 1 to 6-nitroquinolin-2(1H)-one (5). These studies may enable the use of 1 as a fluorescent substrate for the detection and profiling of one-electron reductases in cell culture or biopsy samples. In addition, the compound may find use as a fluorogenic probe for detection of hypoxia in tumor models. The occurrence of side products such as 5 in the enzymatic bioreduction of 1 underscores the importance of metabolite identification in the characterization of hypoxia-selective probes and drugs that employ nitroaryl units as oxygen sensors.
doi:10.1021/tx300483z
PMCID: PMC4003570  PMID: 23488987
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  Children, parents and pets exercising together (CPET): exploratory randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1096.
Background
Levels of physical activity (PA) in UK children are much lower than recommended and novel approaches to its promotion are needed. The Children, Parents and Pets Exercising Together (CPET) study is the first exploratory randomised controlled trial (RCT) to develop and evaluate an intervention aimed at dog-based PA promotion in families. CPET aimed to assess the feasibility, acceptability and potential efficacy of a theory-driven, family-based, dog walking intervention for 9–11 year olds.
Methods
Twenty-eight families were allocated randomly to either receive a 10-week dog based PA intervention or to a control group. Families in the intervention group were motivated and supported to increase the frequency, intensity and duration of dog walking using a number of behaviour change techniques. Parents in the intervention group were asked to complete a short study exit questionnaire. In addition, focus groups with parents and children in the intervention group, and with key stakeholders were undertaken. The primary outcome measure was 10 week change in total volume of PA using the mean accelerometer count per minute (cpm). Intervention and control groups were compared using analysis of covariance. Analysis was performed on an intention to treat basis.
Results
Twenty five families were retained at follow up (89%) and 97% of all outcome data were collected at baseline and follow up. Thirteen of 14 (93%) intervention group parents available at follow up completed the study exit questionnaire and noted that study outcome measures were acceptable. There was a mean difference in child total volume of PA of 27 cpm (95% CI -70, 123) and -3 cpm (95% CI -60, 54) for intervention and control group children, respectively. This was not statistically significant. Approximately 21% of dog walking time for parents and 39% of dog walking time for children was moderate-vigorous PA.
Conclusions
The acceptability of the CPET intervention and outcome measures was high. Using pet dogs as the agent of lifestyle change in PA interventions in children and their parents is both feasible and acceptable, but did not result in a significant increase in child PA in this exploratory trial.
Trial registration
ISRCTN85939423
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1096
PMCID: PMC4222564  PMID: 24279294
CPET; Physical activity; Children; Families; Dogs; Accelerometry; Intervention; Feasibility; Acceptability
15.  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
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  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
21.  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
22.  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
23.  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
24.  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
25.  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

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