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1.  Discovery of a Novel Series of Potent Non-Nucleoside Inhibitors of Hepatitis C Virus NS5B 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(20):10.1021/jm401266k.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major global public health problem. While the current standard of care, a direct-acting antiviral (DAA) protease inhibitor taken in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, represents a major advancement in recent years, an unmet medical need still exists for treatment modalities that improve upon both efficacy and tolerability. Towards those ends, much effort has continued to focus on the discovery of new DAAs, with the ultimate goal to provide interferon-free combinations. The RNA-dependent RNA polymerase enzyme NS5B represents one such DAA therapeutic target for inhibition which has attracted much interest over the past decade. Herein, we report the discovery and optimization of a novel series of inhibitors of HCV NS5B, through the use of structure-based design applied to a fragment-derived starting point. Issues of potency, pharmacokinetics and early safety were addressed in order to provide a clinical candidate in fluoropyridone 19.
doi:10.1021/jm401266k
PMCID: PMC3880614  PMID: 24069953
2.  Nanolitre-scale crystallization using acoustic liquid-transfer technology 
Acoustic droplet ejection achieves precise, tipless, non-invasive transfer of diverse aqueous solutions, enabling nanolitre-scale crystallization trials. The rapid and scalable technique demonstrated successful crystal growth with diverse targets in drop volumes as small as 20 nl.
Focused acoustic energy allows accurate and precise liquid transfer on scales from picolitre to microlitre volumes. This technology was applied in protein crystallization, successfully transferring a diverse set of proteins as well as hundreds of precipitant solutions from custom and commercial crystallization screens and achieving crystallization in drop volumes as small as 20 nl. Only higher concentrations (>50%) of 2-­methyl-2,4-pentanediol (MPD) appeared to be systematically problematic in delivery. The acoustic technology was implemented in a workflow, successfully reproducing active crystallization systems and leading to the discovery of crystallization conditions for previously uncharacterized proteins. The technology offers compelling advantages in low-nanolitre crystallization trials by providing significant reagent savings and presenting seamless scalability for those crystals that require larger volume optimization experiments using the same vapor-diffusion format.
doi:10.1107/S0907444912016617
PMCID: PMC3413209  PMID: 22868754
acoustic liquid transfer; nanolitre-scale crystallization
3.  Selection and Characterization of Replicon Variants Dually Resistant to Thumb- and Palm-Binding Nonnucleoside Polymerase Inhibitors of the Hepatitis C Virus 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(12):6146-6154.
Multiple nonnucleoside inhibitor binding sites have been identified within the hepatitis C virus (HCV) polymerase, including in the palm and thumb domains. After a single treatment with a thumb site inhibitor (thiophene-2-carboxylic acid NNI-1), resistant HCV replicon variants emerged that contained mutations at residues Leu419, Met423, and Ile482 in the polymerase thumb domain. Binding studies using wild-type (WT) and mutant enzymes and structure-based modeling showed that the mechanism of resistance is through the reduced binding of the inhibitor to the mutant enzymes. Combined treatment with a thumb- and a palm-binding polymerase inhibitor had a dramatic impact on the number of replicon colonies able to replicate in the presence of both inhibitors. A more exact characterization through molecular cloning showed that 97.7% of replicons contained amino acid substitutions that conferred resistance to either of the inhibitors. Of those, 65% contained simultaneously multiple amino acid substitutions that conferred resistance to both inhibitors. Double-mutant replicons Met414Leu and Met423Thr were predominantly selected, which showed reduced replication capacity compared to the WT replicon. These findings demonstrate the selection of replicon variants dually resistant to two NS5B polymerase inhibitors binding to different sites of the enzyme. Additionally, these findings provide initial insights into the in vitro mutational threshold of the HCV NS5B polymerase and the potential impact of viral fitness on the selection of multiple-resistant mutants.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02628-05
PMCID: PMC1472602  PMID: 16731953

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