Inhibition of gamma-secretase presents a direct target for lowering Aβ production in the brain as a therapy for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, gamma-secretase is known to process multiple substrates in addition to amyloid precursor protein (APP), most notably Notch, which has limited clinical development of inhibitors targeting this enzyme. It has been postulated that APP substrate selective inhibitors of gamma-secretase would be preferable to non-selective inhibitors from a safety perspective for AD therapy.
In vitro assays monitoring inhibitor potencies at APP γ-site cleavage (equivalent to Aβ40), and Notch ε-site cleavage, in conjunction with a single cell assay to simultaneously monitor selectivity for inhibition of Aβ production vs. Notch signaling were developed to discover APP selective gamma-secretase inhibitors. In vivo efficacy for acute reduction of brain Aβ was determined in the PDAPP transgene model of AD, as well as in wild-type FVB strain mice. In vivo selectivity was determined following seven days x twice per day (b.i.d.) treatment with 15 mg/kg/dose to 1,000 mg/kg/dose ELN475516, and monitoring brain Aβ reduction vs. Notch signaling endpoints in periphery.
The APP selective gamma-secretase inhibitors ELN318463 and ELN475516 reported here behave as classic gamma-secretase inhibitors, demonstrate 75- to 120-fold selectivity for inhibiting Aβ production compared with Notch signaling in cells, and displace an active site directed inhibitor at very high concentrations only in the presence of substrate. ELN318463 demonstrated discordant efficacy for reduction of brain Aβ in the PDAPP compared with wild-type FVB, not observed with ELN475516. Improved in vivo safety of ELN475516 was demonstrated in the 7d repeat dose study in wild-type mice, where a 33% reduction of brain Aβ was observed in mice terminated three hours post last dose at the lowest dose of inhibitor tested. No overt in-life or post-mortem indications of systemic toxicity, nor RNA and histological end-points indicative of toxicity attributable to inhibition of Notch signaling were observed at any dose tested.
The discordant in vivo activity of ELN318463 suggests that the potency of gamma-secretase inhibitors in AD transgenic mice should be corroborated in wild-type mice. The discovery of ELN475516 demonstrates that it is possible to develop APP selective gamma-secretase inhibitors with potential for treatment for AD.