Small molecule inhibition of HIV fusion has been an elusive goal, despite years of effort by both pharmaceutical and academic laboratories. In this review, we will discuss the amphipathic properties of both peptide and small molecule inhibitors of gp41-mediated fusion. Many of the peptides and small molecules that have been developed target a large hydrophobic pocket situated within the grooves of the coiled coil, a potential hotspot for inhibiting the trimer of hairpin formation that accompanies fusion. Peptide studies reveal molecular properties required for effective inhibition, including elongated structure and lipophilic or amphiphilic nature. The characteristics of peptides that bind in this pocket provide features that should be considered in small molecule development. Additionally, a novel site for small molecule inhibition of fusion has recently been suggested, involving residues of the loop and fusion peptide. We will review the small molecule structures that have been developed, evidence pointing to their mechanism of action and strategies towards improving their affinity. The data points to the need for a strongly amphiphilic character of the inhibitors, possibly as a means to mediate the membrane - protein interaction that occurs in gp41 in addition to the protein – protein interaction that accompanies the fusion-activating conformational transition.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the pathogen of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), causes ~2 millions death every year and still defies an effective vaccine. HIV-1 infects host cells through envelope protein – mediated virus-cell fusion. The transmembrane subunit of envelope protein, gp41, is the molecular machinery which facilitates fusion. Its ectodomain contains several distinguishing functional domains, fusion peptide (FP), N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR), C-terminal heptad repeat (CHR) and membrane proximal extracellular region (MPER). During the fusion process, FP inserts into the host cell membrane, and an extended gp41 prehairpin conformation bridges the viral and cell membranes through MPER and FP respectively. Subsequent conformational change of the unstable prehairpin results in a coiled-coil 6-helix bundle (6HB) structure formed between NHR and CHR. The energetics of 6HB formation drives membrane apposition and fusion. Drugs targeting gp41 functional domains to prevent 6HB formation inhibit HIV-1 infection. T20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon) was approved by the US FDA in 2003 as the first fusion inhibitor. It is a 36-residue peptide from the gp41 CHR, and it inhibits 6HB formation by targeting NHR and lipids. Development of new fusion inhibitors, especially small molecule drugs, is encouraged to overcome the shortcomings of T20 as a peptide drug. Hydrophobic characteristics and membrane association are critical for gp41 function and mechanism of action. Research in gp41-membrane interactions, using peptides corresponding to specific functional domains, or constructs including several interactive domains, are reviewed here to get a better understanding of gp41 mediated virus-cell fusion that can inform or guide the design of new HIV-1 fusion inhibitors.
HIV gp41 is a metastable protein whose native conformation is maintained in the form of a heterodimer with gp120. The non-covalently associated gp41/gp120 complex forms a trimer on the virus surface. As gp120 engages with HIV’s receptor, CD4, and coreceptor, CXCR4 or CCR5, gp41 undergoes several conformational changes resulting in fusion between the viral and cellular membranes. Several lipophilic and amphiphilic domains have been shown to be critical in that process. While the obvious function of gp41 in viral entry is well-established its role in cellular membrane fusion and the link with pathogenesis are only now beginning to appear. Recent targeting of gp41 via fusion inhibitors has revealed an important role of this protein not only in viral entry but also in bystander apoptosis and HIV pathogenesis. Studies by our group and others have shown that the phenomenon of gp41-mediated hemifusion initiates apoptosis in bystander cells and correlates with virus pathogenesis. More interestingly, recent clinical evidence suggests that gp41 mutants arising after Enfuvirtide therapy are associated with CD4 cell increase and immunological benefits. This has in turn been correlated to a decrease in bystander apoptosis in our in vitro as well as in vivo assays. Although a great deal of work has been done to unravel HIV-1 gp41-mediated fusion mechanisms, the factors that regulate gp41-mediated fusion versus hemifusion and the mechanism by which hemifusion initiates bystander apoptosis are not fully understood. Further insight into these issues will open new avenues for drug development making gp41 a critical anti-HIV target both for neutralization and virus attenuation.
Two, simple, C5 compounds, dimethylally diphosphate and isopentenyl diphosphate, are the universal precursors of isoprenoids, a large family of natural products involved in numerous important biological processes. Two distinct biosynthetic pathways have evolved to supply these precursors. Humans use the mevalonate route whilst many species of bacteria including important pathogens, plant chloroplasts and apicomplexan parasites exploit the non-mevalonate pathway. The absence from humans, combined with genetic and chemical validation suggests that the non-mevalonate pathway holds the potential to support new drug discovery programmes targeting Gram-negative bacteria and the apicomplexan parasites responsible for causing serious human diseases, and also infections of veterinary importance. The non-mevalonate pathway relies on eight enzyme-catalyzed stages exploiting a range of cofactors and metal ions. A wealth of structural and mechanistic data, mainly derived from studies of bacterial enzymes, now exists for most components of the pathway and these will be described. Particular attention will be paid to how these data inform on the apicomplexan orthologues concentrating on the enzymes from Plasmodium spp.; these cause malaria, one the most important parasitic diseases in the world today.
Antimicrobial drug discovery; isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis; malaria; structure-based inhibitor discovery; toxoplasmosis
Postmenopausal women make up one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. Women typically have a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease following menopause. One of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease is hypertension, and after menopause, blood pressure (BP) increases progressively in women. Also after menopause, the progression of renal disease increases in women compared with aged matched men. However, the mechanism(s) responsible for the postmenopausal increase in BP and renal injury are yet to be elucidated. Moreover the best therapeutic options to treat postmenopausal hypertension in women are not clear. Hypertension in postmenopausal women are usually associated with other cardiovascular risk factors, such as dyslipidemias, visceral obesity and endothelial dysfunction. Recently it became apparent that in a large number of hypertensive postmenopausal women, their BP is not well controlled with conventional antihypertensive medications. A clear understanding of the complex pathogenesis of postmenopausal hypertension is needed in order to offer the best therapeutic options for these women.
Aldosterone; angiotensin II; blood pressure; endothelin; menopause; sex steroids sympathetic; visceral obesity
The extensive adaptability of dendrimer-based contrast agents is ideal for the molecular imaging of organs and other target-specific locations. The ability of literally atom-by-atom modification on cores, interiors, and surface groups, permits the rational manipulation of dendrimer-based agents in order to optimize their physical characteristics, biodistribution, receptor-mediated targeting, and controlled release of the payload. Such modifications enable agents to localize preferentially to areas or organs of interest for facilitating target-specific imaging as well as assume excretion pathways that do not interfere with desired applications. Recent innovations in dendrimer research have increased agent directibility and new synthetic chemistry approaches have increased efficiency of production as well as led to the creation of novel dendrimer-based contrast agents. In addition, by taking advantage of the numerous attachment sites available on the surface of a single dendrimer molecule, new synthetic chemistry techniques have led to the development of multimodality magnetic resonance, radionuclide, and fluorescence imaging agents for molecular imaging. Herein we discuss advances in dendrimer-based contrast agents for molecular imaging focusing mainly on the chemical design as applied to optical, magnetic resonance, computer tomography, radionuclide, and multi-modality imaging.
Dendrimer; contrast agent; molecular imaging; nanomedicine; magnetic resonance imaging; optical imaging; radionuclide imaging; multiple modalities
In a recent series of experiments, we demonstrated that a visuomotor adaptation task, 12 hours of left arm immobilization, and rapid transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) during waking can each induce local changes in the topography of electroencephalographic (EEG) slow wave activity (SWA) during subsequent non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. However, the poor spatial resolution of EEG and the difficulty of relating scalp potentials to the activity of the underlying cortex limited the interpretation of these results. In order to better understand local cortical regulation of sleep, we used source modeling to show that plastic changes in specific cortical areas during waking produce correlated changes in SWA during sleep in those same areas. We found that implicit learning of a visuomotor adaptation task induced an increase in SWA in right premotor and sensorimotor cortices when compared to a motor control. These same areas have previously been shown to be selectively involved in the performance of this task. We also found that arm immobilization resulted in a decrease in SWA in sensorimotor cortex. Inducing cortical potentiation with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) caused an increase in SWA in the targeted area and a decrease in SWA in the contralateral cortex. Finally, we report the first evidence that these modulations in SWA may be related to the dynamics of individual slow waves. We conclude that there is a local, plasticity dependent component to sleep regulation and confirm previous inferences made from the scalp data.
Waking neurobehavioral performance is temporally regulated by a sleep/wake homeostatic process and a circadian process in interaction with a time-on-task effect. Neurobehavioral impairment resulting from these factors is task-specific, and characterized by performance variability. Several aspects of these phenomena are not well understood, and cannot be explained solely by a top-down (subcortically driven) view of sleep/wake and performance regulation. We present a bottom-up theory, where we postulate that task performance is degraded by local, use-dependent sleep in neuronal groups subserving cognitive processes associated with the task at hand. The theory offers explanations for the temporal dependence of neurobehavioral performance on time awake, time on task, and their interaction; for the effectiveness of task switching and rest breaks to overcome the time-on-task effect (but not the effects of sleep deprivation); for the task-specific nature of neurobehavioral impairment; and for the stochastic property of performance variability.
Use-dependence; cognition; time on task; state instability; sleep homeostasis; near-infrared optical imaging; theory development
Selective agonists for A3 adenosine receptors (ARs) could potentially be therapeutic agents for a variety of disorders, including brain and heart ischemic conditions, while partial agonists may have advantages over full agonists as a result of an increased selectivity of action. A number of structural determinants for A3AR activation have recently been identified, including the N6-benzyl group, methanocarba substitution of ribose, 2-chloro and 2-fluoro substituents, various 2’- and 3’-substitutions and 4’-thio substitution of oxygen. The 2-chloro substitution of CPA and R-PIA led to A3 antagonism (CCPA) and partial agonism (Cl-R-PIA). 2-Chloroadenosine was a full agonist, while 2-fluoroadenosine was a partial agonist. Both 2’- and 3’- substitutions have a pronounced effect on its efficacy, although the effect of 2’-substitution was more dramatic. The 4-thio substitution of oxygen may also diminish efficacy, depending on other substitutions. Both N6-methyl and N6-benzyl groups may contribute to the A3 affinity and selectivity; however, an N6-benzyl group but not an N6-methyl group diminishes A3AR efficacy. N6-benzyl substituted adenosine derivatives have similar potency for human and rat A3ARS while N6-methyl substitution was preferable for the human A3AR. The combination of 2-chloro and N6-benzyl substitutions appeared to reduce efficacy further than either modification alone. The A2AAR agonist DPMA was shown to be an antagonist for the human A3AR. Thus, the efficacy of adenosine derivatives at the A3AR appears to be more sensitive to small structural changes than at other subtypes. Potent and selective partial agonists for the A3AR could be identified by screening known adenosine derivatives and by modifying adenosine and the adenosine derivatives.
TRPV1 has emerged as a promising therapeutic target for pain as well as a broad range of other conditions such as asthma or urge incontinence. The identification of resiniferatoxin as an ultrapotent ligand partially able to dissect the acute activation of TRPV1 from subsequent desensitization and the subsequent intense efforts in medicinal chemistry have revealed that TRPV1 affords a dramatic landscape of opportunities for pharmacological manipulation. While agonism and antagonism have represented the primary directions for drug development, the pharmacological complexity of TRPV1 affords additional opportunities. Partial agonism/partial antagonism, its modulation by signaling pathways, variable desensitization, and slow kinetics of action can all be exploited through drug design.
resiniferatoxin; capsaicin; partial agonist; partial antagonist; TRPV1; efficacy; signaling pathway
Chronic clinical pain remains poorly treated. Despite attempts to develop novel analgesic agents, opioids remain the standard analgesics of choice in the clinical management of chronic and severe pain. However, mu opioid analgesics have undesired side effects including, but not limited to, respiratory depression, physical dependence and tolerance. A growing body of evidence suggests that P-glycoprotein (P-gp), an efflux transporter, may contribute a systems-level approach to the development of opioid tolerance. Herein, we describe current in vitro and in vivo methodology available to analyze interactions between opioids and P-gp and critically analyze P-gp data associated with six commonly used mu opioids to include morphine, methadone, loperamide, meperidine, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Recent studies focused on the development of opioids lacking P-gp substrate activity are explored, concentrating on structure-activity relationship development to develop an optimal opioid analgesic lacking this systems-level contribution to tolerance development. Continued work in this area will potentially allow for delineation of the mechanism responsible for opioid-related P-gp up-regulation and provide further support for evidence based medicine supporting clinical opioid rotation.
Opioids; analgesics; P-glycoprotein; efflux transporters; tolerance; dependence
Pathogenic protozoa threaten lives of several hundred million people throughout the world and are responsible for large numbers of deaths globally. The parasites are transmitted to humans by insect vectors, more than a hundred of infected mammalian species forming reservoir. With human migrations, HIV-coinfections, and blood bank contamination the diseases are now spreading beyond the endemic tropical countries, being found in all parts of the world including the USA, Canada and Europe. In spite of the widely appreciated magnitude of this health problem, current treatment for sleeping sickness (Trypanosoma brucei), Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi) and leishmaniasis (Leishmania spp.) remains unsatisfactory. The drugs are decades old, their efficacy and safety profiles are unacceptable. This review describes sterol 14α-demethylase, an essential enzyme in sterol biosynthesis in eukaryotes and clinical target for antifungal azoles, as a promising target for antiprotozoan chemotherapy. While several antifungal azoles have been proven active against Trypanosomatidae and are under consideration as antiprotozoan agents, crystal structures of sterol 14α-demethylases from three protozoan pathogens, Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania infantum provide the basis for the development of new, highly potent and pathogen-specific drugs with rationally optimized pharmacological properties.
Antiprotozoan chemotherapy; crystal structure; enzyme inhibitors; leishmaniasis; sterol 14alpha-demethylase (CYP51); sterol biosynthesis; trypanosomiasis
Whereas docking screens have emerged as the most practical way to use protein structure for ligand discovery, an inconsistent track record raises questions about how well docking actually works. In its favor, a growing number of publications report the successful discovery of new ligands, often supported by experimental affinity data and controls for artifacts. Few reports, however, actually test the underlying structural hypotheses that docking makes. To be successful and not just lucky, prospective docking must not only rank a true ligand among the top scoring compounds, it must also correctly orient the ligand so the score it receives is biophysically sound. If the correct binding pose is not predicted, a skeptic might well infer that the discovery was serendipitous. Surveying over 15 years of the docking literature, we were surprised to discover how rarely sufficient evidence is presented to establish whether docking actually worked for the right reasons. The paucity of experimental tests of theoretically predicted poses undermines confidence in a technique that has otherwise become widely accepted. Of course, solving a crystal structure is not always possible, and even when it is, it can be a lot of work, and is not readily accessible to all groups. Even when a structure can be determined, investigators may prefer to gloss over an erroneous structural prediction to better focus on their discovery. Still, the absence of a direct test of theory by experiment is a loss for method developers seeking to understand and improve docking methods. We hope this review will motivate investigators to solve structures and compare them with their predictions whenever possible, to advance the field.
virtual screening; ligand discovery
The logic and potential mechanisms for a new paradigm, the local use-dependent view of sleep as a distributed dynamic process in brain, are presented. This new paradigm is needed because the current dominant top-down imposition of sleep on the brain by sleep regulatory centers is either silent or is of inadequate explanatory value for many well-known sleep phenomena, e.g. sleep inertia. Two mechanistic falsifiable hypotheses linking sleep to cell use and the emergence of sleep/wake states are presented. These hypotheses are not mutually exclusive and both firmly link sleep to activity-dependent epigenetic brain plasticity and the need to integrate and balance waking activity induced-network connectivity changes. The views presented herein emphasize the inseparability of sleep mechanisms from a connectivity sleep function.
Antimalarial drug discovery has historically benefited from the whole-cell (phenotypic) screening approach to identify lead molecules in the search for new drugs. However over the past two decades there has been a shift in the pharmaceutical industry to move away from whole-cell screening to target-based approaches. As part of a Wellcome Trust and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) funded consortium to discover new blood-stage antimalarials, we used both approaches to identify new antimalarial chemotypes, two of which have progressed beyond the lead optimization phase and display excellent in vivo efficacy in mice. These two advanced series were identified through a cell-based optimization devoid of target information and in this review we summarize the advantages of this approach versus a target-based optimization. Although the each lead optimization required slightly different medicinal chemistry strategies, we observed some common issues across the different the scaffolds which could be applied to other cell based lead optimization programs.
Lead-optimization; malaria; whole-cell screening; spiroindolones; imidazolopiperazines.
Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the tropics. Chemotherapeutic and vector control strategies have been applied for more than a century but have not been efficient in disease eradication. Increased resistance of malaria parasites to drug treatment and of mosquito vectors to insecticides requires the development of novel chemotherapeutic agents. Malaria parasites exhibit rapid nucleic acid synthesis during their intraerythrocytic growth phase. Plasmodium purine and pyrimidine metabolic pathways are distinct from those of their human hosts. Thus, targeting purine and pyrimidine metabolic pathways provides a promising route for novel drug development. Recent developments in enzymatic transition state analysis have provided an improved route to inhibitor design targeted to specific enzymes, including those of purine and pyrimidine metabolism. Modern transition state analogue drug discovery has resulted in transition state analogues capable of binding to target enzymes with unprecedented affinity and specificity. These agents can provide specific blocks in essential pathways. The combination of tight binding with the high specificity of these logically designed inhibitors, results in low toxicity and minor side effects. These features reduce two of the major problems with the current antimalarials. Transition state analogue design is being applied to generate new lead compounds to treat malaria by targeting purine and pyrimidine pathways.
Antimalarials; malaria; purines; pyrimidines; transition state analogues; immucillins
The E. coli glucose-galactose chemosensory receptor is a 309 residue, 32 kDa protein consisting of two distinct structural domains. We used two computational methods to examine the protein’s thermal fluctuations, including both the large-scale interdomain movements that contribute to the receptor’s mechanism of action, as well as smaller-scale motions. We primarily employ extremely fast, “semi-atomistic” Library-Based Monte Carlo (LBMC) simulations, which include all backbone atoms but “implicit” side chains. Our results were compared with previous experiments and all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. Both LBMC and MD simulations were performed using both the apo and glucose-bound form of the protein, with LBMC exhibiting significantly larger fluctuations. The LBMC simulations are in general agreement with the disulfide trapping experiments of Careaga & Falke (J. Mol. Biol., 1992, Vol. 226, 1219-35), which indicate that distant residues in the crystal structure (i.e. beta carbons separated by 10 to 20 angstroms) form spontaneous transient contacts in solution. Our simulations illustrate several possible “mechanisms” (configurational pathways) for these fluctuations. We also observe several discrepancies between our calculations and experimental rate constants. Nevertheless, we believe that our semi-atomistic approach could be used to study fluctuations in other proteins, perhaps for ensemble docking or other analyses of protein flexibility in virtual screening studies.
Computational Simulations; Coarse-Grain; GGBP; LBMC; Molecular Dynamics; Monte Carlo; Protein dynamics; Protein fluctuations
The recognition that malfunction of the microtubule (MT) associated protein tau is likely to play a defining role in the onset and/or progression of a number of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, has resulted in the initiation of drug discovery programs that target this protein. Tau is an endogenous MT-stabilizing agent that is highly expressed in the axons of neurons. The MT-stabilizing function of tau is essential for the axonal transport of proteins, neurotransmitters and other cellular constituents. Under pathological conditions, tau misfolding and aggregation results in axonal transport deficits that appear to have deleterious consequences for the affected neurons, leading to synapse dysfunction and, ultimately, neuronal loss. This review focuses on both progress and unresolved issues surrounding the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative tauopathies, which are based on (A) MT-stabilizing agents to compensate for the loss of normal tau function, and (B) small molecule inhibitors of tau aggregation.
Nucleoside receptors are known to be important targets for a variety of brain diseases. However, the therapeutic modulation of their endogenous agonists by inhibitors of nucleoside metabolism represents an alternative therapeutic strategy that has gained increasing attention in recent years. Deficiency in endogenous nucleosides, in particular of adenosine, may causally be linked to a variety of neurological diseases and neuropsychiatric conditions ranging from epilepsy and chronic pain to schizophrenia. Consequently, augmentation of nucleoside function by inhibiting their metabolism appears to be a rational therapeutic strategy with distinct advantages: (i) in contrast to specific receptor modulation, the increase (or decrease) of the amount of a nucleoside will affect several signal transduction pathways simultaneously and therefore have the unique potential to modify complex neurochemical networks; (ii) by acting on the network level, inhibitors of nucleoside metabolism are highly suited to fine-tune, restore, or amplify physiological functions of nucleosides; (iii) therefore inhibitors of nucleoside metabolism have promise for the “soft and smart” therapy of neurological diseases with the added advantage of reduced systemic side effects. This review will first highlight the role of nucleoside function and dysfunction in physiological and pathophysiological situations with a particular emphasis on the anticonvulsant, neuroprotective, and antinociceptive roles of adenosine. The second part of this review will cover pharmacological approaches to use inhibitors of nucleoside metabolism, with a special emphasis on adenosine kinase, the key regulator of endogenous adenosine. Finally, novel gene-based therapeutic strategies to inhibit nucleoside metabolism and focal treatment approaches will be discussed.
adenosine; ADK; nucleosides; focal drug delivery; neurology; psychiatry
PUMA (p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis) is a Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3)-only Bcl-2 family member and a key mediator of apoptosis induced by a wide variety of stimuli. PUMA is particularly important in initiating radiation-induced apoptosis and damage in the gastrointestinal and hematopoietic systems. Unlike most BH3-only proteins, PUMA neutralizes all five known antiapoptotic Bcl-2 members through high affinity interactions with its BH3 domain to initiate mitochondria-dependent cell death. Using structural data on the conserved interactions of PUMA with Bcl-2-like proteins, we developed a pharmacophore model that mimics these interactions. In silico screening of the ZINC 8.0 database with this pharmacophore model yielded 142 compounds that could potentially disrupt these interactions. Thirteen structurally diverse compounds with favorable in silico ADME/Toxicity profiles have been retrieved from this set. Extensive testing of these compounds using cell-based and cell-free systems identified lead compounds that confer considerable protection against PUMA-dependent and radiation-induced apoptosis, and inhibit the interaction between PUMA and Bcl-xL.
Inhibition of PUMA-induced apoptosis; Bcl-2 protein family; BH3 domain; protein-protein interactions; pharmacophore modeling; druggability; virtual screening of libraries of small compounds
Implantable medical devices are increasingly important in the practice of modern medicine. Unfortunately, almost all medical devices suffer to a different extent from adverse reactions, including inflammation, fibrosis, thrombosis and infection. To improve the safety and function of many types of medical implants, a major need exists for development of materials that evoked desired tissue responses. Because implant-associated protein adsorption and conformational changes thereafter have been shown to promote immune reactions, rigorous research efforts have been emphasized on the engineering of surface property (physical and chemical characteristics) to reduce protein adsorption and cell interactions and subsequently improve implant biocompatibility. This brief review is aimed to summarize the past efforts and our recent knowledge about the influence of surface functionality on protein:cell:biomaterial interactions. It is our belief that detailed understandings of bioactivity of surface functionality provide an easy, economic, and specific approach for the future rational design of implantable medical devices with desired tissue reactivity and, hopefully, wound healing capability.
functional groups; biomaterials; biocompatibility; proteins; cells
The failure of solid tumors to respond to chemotherapy is a complicated and clinically frustrating issue. The ability to predict which tumors will respond to treatment could reduce the human and monetary costs of cancer therapy by allowing pro-active selection of a chemotherapeutic to which the tumor does not express resistance. PET/CT imaging with a radiolabeled form of paclitaxel, F-18 fluoropaclitaxel (FPAC), may be able to predict the uptake of paclitaxel in solid tumors, and as a substrate of P-glycoprotein, it may also predict which tumors exhibit multidrug resistance (MDR), a phenotype in which tumors fail to respond to a wide variety of chemically unrelated chemotherapeutic agents. This article reviews the synthetic, preclinical and early human data obtained during the development phase of this promising new radio-pharmaceutical.
Drug development; Molecular Imaging; F-18 fluoropaclitaxel; Multidrug resistance; Paclitaxel; PET; Pgp
Small molecule kinase inhibitors are important tools for studying cellular signaling pathways, phenotypes and are, occasionally, useful clinical agents. With stereochemistry pervasive throughout the molecules of life it is no surprise that a single stereocenter can bestow a ligand with distinct binding affinities to various protein targets. While the majority of small molecule kinase inhibitors reported to date are achiral, a number of asymmetric compounds show great utility as tools for probing kinase-associated biomolecular events as well as promising therapeutic leads. The mechanism by which chirality is introduced varies but includes screening of chiral libraries, incorporation of chiral centers during optimization efforts and the rational installation of a chiral moiety as guided by structural and modeling efforts. Here we discuss several advanced chiral small molecule kinase inhibitors where stereochemistry plays an important role in terms of potency and selectivity.
African sleeping sickness is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa where the WHO estimates that 60 million people are at risk for the disease. Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is 100% fatal if untreated and the current drug therapies have significant limitations due to toxicity and difficult treatment regimes. No new chemical agents have been approved since eflornithine in 1990. The pentamidine analog DB289, which was in late stage clinical trials for the treatment of early stage HAT recently failed due to toxicity issues. A new protocol for the treatment of late-stage T. brucei gambiense that uses combination nifurtomox/eflornithine (NECT) was recently shown to have better safety and efficacy than eflornithine alone, while being easier to administer. This breakthrough represents the only new therapy for HAT since the approval of eflornithine. A number of research programs are on going to exploit the unusual biochemical pathways in the parasite to identify new targets for target based drug discovery programs. HTS efforts are also underway to discover new chemical entities through whole organism screening approaches. A number of inhibitors with anti-trypanosomal activity have been identified by both approaches, but none of the programs are yet at the stage of identifying a preclinical candidate. This dire situation underscores the need for continued effort to identify new chemical agents for the treatment of HAT.