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1.  Desferrithiocin: A Search for Clinically Effective Iron Chelators 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(22):9259-9291.
The successful search for orally active iron chelators to treat transfusional iron-overload diseases, e.g., thalassemia, is overviewed. The critical role of iron in nature as a redox engine is first described, as well as how primitive life forms and humans manage the metal. The problems that derive when iron homeostasis in humans is disrupted and the mechanism of the ensuing damage, uncontrolled Fenton chemistry, are discussed. The solution to the problem, chelator-mediated iron removal, is clear. Design options for the assembly of ligands that sequester and decorporate iron are reviewed, along with the shortcomings of the currently available therapeutics. The rationale for choosing desferrithiocin, a natural product iron chelator (a siderophore), as a platform for structure–activity relationship studies in the search for an orally active iron chelator is thoroughly developed. The study provides an excellent example of how to systematically reengineer a pharmacophore in order to overcome toxicological problems while maintaining iron clearing efficacy and has led to three ligands being evaluated in human clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4255733  PMID: 25207964
2.  Substituent Effects on Desferrithiocin and Desferrithiocin Analogue Iron Clearing and Toxicity Profiles 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(16):7090-7103.
Desferrithiocin (DFT, 1) is a very efficient iron chelator when given orally. However, it is severely nephrotoxic. Structure-activity studies with 1 demonstrated that removal of the aromatic nitrogen to provide desazadesferrithiocin (DADFT, 2) and introduction of either a hydroxyl group or a polyether fragment onto the aromatic ring resulted in orally active iron chelators that were much less toxic than 1. The purpose of the current study was to determine if a comparable reduction in renal toxicity could be achieved by performing the same structural manipulations on 1 itself. Accordingly, three DFT analogues were synthesized. Iron clearing efficiency and ferrokinetics were evaluated in rats and primates; toxicity assessments were carried out in rodents. The resulting DFT ligands demonstrated a reduction in toxicity that was equivalent to that of the DADFT analogues and presented with excellent iron clearing properties.
PMCID: PMC3583384  PMID: 22889170
3.  The Impact of Polyether Chain Length on the Iron Clearing Efficiency and Physiochemical Properties of Desferrithiocin Analogues 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(7):2843-2853.
(S)-2-(2,4-Dihydroxyphenyl)-4,5-dihydro-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid (2) was abandoned in clinical trials as an iron chelator for the treatment of iron overload disease because of its nephrotoxicity. However, subsequent investigations revealed that replacing the 4′-(HO) of 2 with a 3,6,9-trioxadecyloxy group, ligand 4, increased iron clearing efficiency (ICEa) and ameliorated the renal toxicity of 2. This compelled a closer look at additional polyether analogues, the subject of this work.
The 3,6,9,12-tetraoxatridecyloxy analogue of 4, chelator 5, an oil, had twice the ICE in rodents of 4, although its ICE in primates was reduced relative to 4. The corresponding 3,6-dioxaheptyloxy analogue of 2, 6 (a crystalline solid), had high ICEs in both the rodent and primate models. It significantly decorporated hepatic, renal, and cardiac iron, with no obvious histopathologies. These findings suggest that polyether chain length has a profound effect on ICE, tissue iron decorporation, and ligand physiochemical properties.
PMCID: PMC2951135  PMID: 20232803
4.  Vibriobactin Antibodies: A Vaccine Strategy 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(12):3801-3813.
A new target strategy in the development of bacterial vaccines, the induction of antibodies to microbial outer membrane ferrisiderophore complexes, is explored. A vibriobactin (VIB) analogue, with a thiol tether, 1-(2,3-dihydroxybenzoyl)-5,9-bis[[(4S,5R)-2-(2,3-dihydroxyphenyl)-4,5-dihydro-5-methyl-4-oxazolyl]carbonyl]-14-(3-mercaptopropanoyl)-1,5,9,14-tetraazatetradecane, was synthesized and linked to ovalbumin (OVA) and bovine serum albumin (BSA). The antigenicity of the VIB microbial iron chelator conjugates and their iron complexes was evaluated. When mice were immunized with the resulting OVA-VIB conjugate, a selective and unequivocal antigenic response to the VIB hapten was observed; IgG monoclonal antibodies specific to the vibriobactin fragment of the BSA and OVA conjugates were isolated. The results are consistent with the idea that the isolated adducts of siderophores covalently linked to their bacterial outer membrane receptors represent a credible target for vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC2951131  PMID: 19492834
5.  Desferrithiocin Analogues and Nephrotoxicity 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(19):5993-6004.
The syntheses of a series of 4′-O-alkylated (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid and 5′-O-alkylated (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-(2,5-dihydroxyphenyl)-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid ligands are described. Their partition between octanol and water, logPapp, is determined, along with their iron-clearing efficiency (ICE) in both non-iron-overloaded, bile duct-cannulated rodents and in iron-overloaded primates. The ligand-promoted biliary ferrokinetics in rats are described for each of the chelators. Plots of logPapp versus ICE in a rodent model for both the 4′-O-alkylated-2,4-dihydroxy and 5′-O-alkylated-2,5-dihydroxy series produced an inverse parabola plot with r2 values of 0.97 and 0.81, respectively. The plots indicate an optimum logPapp/ICE relationship. Because of the nature of the data spread in the 4′-O-alkylated 2,4-dihydroxy series, it will be used to help assess the origin of nephrotoxicity in desferrithiocin analogues: is toxicity simply related to lipophilicity, ICE, or a combination of these properties?
PMCID: PMC2778308  PMID: 18788724
6.  Design, Synthesis, and Testing of Non-Nephrotoxic Desazadesferrithiocin Polyether Analogues 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(13):3913-3923.
A series of iron-clearing efficiencies (ICEs), ferrokinetics, and toxicity studies for (S)-2-(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-4,5-dihydro-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid (deferitrin, 1), (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-[2-hydroxy-4-(3,6,9-trioxadecyloxy)phenyl]-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid (2) and (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-[2-hydroxy-3-(3,6,9-trioxadecyloxy)phenyl]-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid (3) are reported. The ICEs in rodents are shown to be dose-dependent and saturable for ligands 2 and 3 and superior to 1. Both polyether analogues in subcutaneous (sc) versus oral (po) administration in rodents and primates demonstrated excellent bioavailability. Finally, in a series of toxicity studies of ligands 1–3, the dosing regimen was shown to have a profound effect in animals treated with ligand 1. When ligand 1 was given at doses of 237 µmol/kg/day twice a day (b.i.d.), there was serious proximal tubule damage versus 474 µmol/kg/day once daily (s.i.d.). With 2 and 3, in iron-overloaded and/or non-iron-loaded rodents, kidney histopathologies remained normal.
PMCID: PMC2759697  PMID: 18533709
7.  (S)-4,5-Dihydro-2-(2-hydroxy-4-hydroxyphenyl)-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic Acid Polyethers: A Solution to Nephrotoxicity 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2006;49(9):2772-2783.
Previous studies revealed that, within a family of ligands, the more lipophilic chelators have better iron-clearing efficiency. The larger the log Papp value of the compound, the better the iron-clearing efficiency. What is also clear from the data is that although the relative effects of log Papp changes are essentially the same through different families, there are differences in absolute value between families. However, there also exists a second, albeit somewhat more disturbing relationship. In all sets of ligands, the most lipophilic chelator is always the most toxic. The current study focuses on designing ligands that balance the lipophilicity/toxicity problem while maintaining iron-clearing efficiency. Earlier studies with (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-(2-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid [(S)-4'-(CH3O)-DADFT, 6] indicated this methyl ether was a ligand with excellent iron-clearing efficiency in both rodents and primates; however, it was too toxic. Based on this finding, a less lipophilic, more water-soluble ligand than 6 was assembled: (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-[2-hydroxy-4-(3,6,9-trioxadecyloxy)phenyl]-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid [(S)-4'-(HO)-DADFT-PE, 11], a polyether analogue, along with its ethyl and isopropyl esters. The parent polyether and its isopropyl and ethyl esters were all shown to be highly efficient iron chelators in both rodents and primates. A comparison of 11 in rodents with the desferrithiocin analogue under clinical trials, (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid [(S)-4'-(HO)-DADFT, 1], revealed the polyether to be more tolerable, achieving higher concentrations in the liver and significantly lower concentrations in the kidney. The lower renal drug levels are in keeping with the profound difference in the architectural changes seen in the kidney of rodents given 1 versus those treated with 11.
PMCID: PMC2547084  PMID: 16640338
8.  Impact of the 3,6,9-Trioxadecyloxy Group on Desazadesferrithiocin Analogue Iron Clearance and Organ Distribution 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2007;50(14):3302-3313.
The impact of introducing a 3,6,9-trioxadecyloxyl group at various positions of the desazadesferrithiocin (DADFT) aromatic ring on iron clearance and organ distribution is described. Three DADFT polyethers are evaluated: (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-[2-hydroxy-4-(3,6,9-trioxadecyloxy)phenyl]-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid [(S)-4′-(HO)-DADFT-PE, 3], (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-[2-hydroxy-5-(3,6,9-trioxadecyloxy)phenyl]-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid [(S)-5′-(HO)-DADFT-PE, 6], and (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-[2-hydroxy-3-(3,6,9-trioxadecyloxy)phenyl]-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid [(S)-3′-(HO)-DADFT-PE, 9]. The iron-clearing efficiency (ICE) in rodents and primates is shown to be very sensitive to which positional isomer is evaluated, as is the organ distribution in rodents. The polyethers had uniformly higher ICE than their corresponding parent ligands in rodents, consistent with in vivo ligand-serum albumin binding studies. Ligand 9 is the most active polyether analogue in rodents and is also very effective in primates, suggesting a higher index of success in humans. In addition, this analogue is also shown to clear more iron in the urine of the primates than many of the other chelators. If this trend were also observed in patients, it would facilitate iron-balance studies in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC2527695  PMID: 17564424
9.  The Design, Synthesis, and Evaluation of Organ-Specific Iron Chelators 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2006;49(24):7032-7043.
A series of iron chelators, three (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-(2-hydroxyphenyl)-4-methyl-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid (DADFT) and three (S)-4,5-dihydro-2-(2-hydroxyphenyl)-4-thiazolecarboxylic acid (DADMDFT) analogues are synthesized and assessed for their lipophilicity (log Papp), iron-clearing efficiency (ICE) in rodents and iron-loaded primates (Cebus apella), toxicity in rodents, and organ distribution in rodents. The results lead to a number of generalizations useful in chelator design strategies. In rodents, while log Papp is a good predictor of a chelator’s ICE, chelator liver concentration is a better tool. In primates, log Papp is a good predictor of ICE, but only when comparing structurally very similar chelators. There is a profound difference in toxicity between the DADMDFT and DADFT series: DADMDFTs are less toxic. Within the DADFT family of ligands, the more lipophilic ligands are generally more toxic. Lipophilicity can have a profound effect on ligand organ distribution, and ligands can thus be targeted to organs compromised in iron overload disease, e.g., the heart.
PMCID: PMC2516204  PMID: 17125256

Results 1-9 (9)