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Journal: Journal of medicinal chemistry


Curcumin is a constituent (up to ∼5%) of the traditional medicine known as turmeric. Interest in the therapeutic use of turmeric and the relative ease of isolation of curcuminoids has led to their extensive investigation. Curcumin has recently been classified as both a PAINS (pan-assay interference compounds) and an IMPS (invalid metabolic panaceas) candidate. The likely false activity of curcumin in vitro and in vivo has resulted in >120 clinical trials of curcuminoids against several diseases. No double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial of curcumin has been successful. This manuscript reviews the essential medicinal chemistry of curcumin and provides evidence that curcumin is an unstable, reactive, nonbioavailable compound and, therefore, a highly improbable lead. On the basis of this in-depth evaluation, potential new directions for research on curcuminoids are discussed.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Pharmacology, Medicine, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna, Clinical research


Components of the chromatin remodelling SWI/SNF complex are recurrently mutated in tumours, suggesting that altering the activity of the complex plays a role in oncogenesis. However, the role that the individual subunits play in this process is not clear. We set out to develop an inhibitor compound targeting the bromodomain of BRD9 in order to evaluate its function within the SWI/SNF complex. Here, we present the discovery and development of a potent and selective BRD9 bromodomain inhibitor series based on a new pyridinone-like scaffold. Crystallographic information of the inhibitors bound to BRD9 guided their development with respect to potency for BRD9 and selectivity against BRD4. These compounds modulate BRD9 bromodomain cellular function and display anti-tumour activity in an AML xenograft model. Two chemical probes, BI-7273 (1) and BI-9564 (2), were identified that should prove useful in further exploring BRD9 bromodomain biology in both in vitro and in vivo settings.

Concepts: DNA, Natural selection, Mathematics, Function, In vivo, In vitro, Chemical compound, Order


An improved synthesis of a haptenic heroin surrogate 1 (6-AmHap) is reported. The intermediate needed for the preparation of 1 was described in the route in the synthesis of 2 (DiAmHap). A scalable procedure was developed to install the C-3 amido group. Using the Boc protectng group in 18 allowed preparation of 1 in an overall yield of 53% from 4 and eliminated the necessity of preparing the diamide 13. Hapten 1 was conjugated to tetanus toxoid and mixed with liposomes containing monophosphoryl lipid A as an adjuvant. The 1 vaccine induced high anti-1 IgG levels that reduced heroin-induced antinociception and locomotive behavioral changes following repeated subcutaneous and intravenous heroin challenges in mice and rats. Vaccinated mice had reduced heroin-induced hyperlocomotion following a 50 mg/kg heroin challenge. The 1 vaccine-induced antibodies bound to heroin and other abused opioids, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and codeine.

Concepts: Immune system, Opioid, Morphine, Drug addiction, Hydrocodone, Codeine, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone


Novel pyrazolopyrimidines displaying high potency and selectivity towards SRC family kinases have been developed by combining ligand-based design and phenotypic screening in an iterative manner. Compounds were derived from the promiscuous kinase inhibitor PP1 to search for analogs that could potentially target a broad spectrum of kinases involved in cancer. Phenotypic screening against MCF7 mammary adenocarcinoma cells generated target-agnostic structure-activity relationships that biased subsequent designs towards breast cancer treatment rather than to a particular target. This strategy led to the discovery of two potent antiproliferative leads with phenotypically-distinct anticancer mode of actions. Kinase profiling and further optimization resulted in eCF506, the first small molecule with subnanomolar IC50 for SRC that requires 3 orders of magnitude greater concentration to inhibit ABL. eCF506 exhibits excellent water solubility, an optimal DMPK profile and oral bioavailability, halts SRC-associated neuromast migration in zebrafish embryos without inducing life-threatening heart defects and inhibits SRC phosphorylation in tumor xenografts in mice.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Signal transduction, Chemotherapy, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor


Accumulating studies have linked inflammation to tumor progression. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have been shown to suppress tumor growth through their conversion to epoxide metabolites. Alternatively, DHA is converted enzymatically into docosahexaenoylethanolamide (DHEA), an endocannabinoid with anti-proliferative activity. Recently, we reported a novel class of anti-inflammatory DHEA-epoxides (EDP-EAs) that contain both ethanolamide and epoxide moieties. Herein we evaluate the anti-tumorigenic properties of EDP-EAs in an osteosarcoma model. First, we show ~80% increase in EDP-EAs in metastatic lungs versus normal mouse lungs. We found significant differences in the apoptotic and anti-migratory potency of the different EDP-EA regioisomers, which are partly mediated through cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1). Furthermore, we synthesized derivatives of the most pro-apoptotic regioisomer. These derivatives had reduced hydrolytic susceptibility to fatty acid-amide hydrolase and increased CB1 binding. Collectively, we report a novel class of EDP-EAs that exhibit anti-angiogenic, anti-tumorigenic and anti-migratory properties in osteosarcoma.


There is a high demand for potent, selective, and brain-penetrant small molecule inhibitors of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) to test whether inhibition of LRRK2 kinase activity is a potentially viable treatment option for Parkinson’s disease patients. Herein we disclose the use of property and structure-based drug design for the optimization of highly ligand efficient aminopyrimidine lead compounds. High throughput in vivo rodent cassette pharmacokinetic studies enabled rapid validation of in vitro-in vivo correlations. Guided by this data, optimal design parameters were established. Effective incorporation of these guidelines into our molecular design process resulted in the discovery of small molecule inhibitors such as GNE-7915 (18) and 19, which possess an ideal balance of LRRK2 cellular potency, broad kinase selectivity, metabolic stability, and brain penetration across multiple species. Advancement of GNE-7915 into rodent and higher species toxicity studies enabled risk assessment for early development.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Signal transduction, Molecule, Parkinson's disease, Enzyme inhibitor, Operations research, Design, LRRK2


Halogen bonding has been known in material science for decades, but until recently, halogen bonds in protein-ligand interactions were largely the result of serendipitous discovery rather than rational design. In this perspective, we provide insights into the phenomenon of halogen bonding, with special focus on its role in drug discovery. We summarize the theoretical background defining its strength and directionality, provide a systematic analysis of its occurrence and interaction geometries in protein-ligand complexes, and give recent examples where halogen bonding has been successfully harnessed for lead identification and optimization. In the light of these data, we discuss the potential and limitations of exploiting halogen bonds for molecular recognition and rational drug design.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Molecule, Chemistry, Drug discovery, Drug design, Materials science, Medicinal chemistry, Molecular Conceptor


A Matched Molecular Series is the general form of a Matched Molecular Pair, and refers to a set of two or more molecules with the same scaffold but different R groups at the same position. We describe Matsy, a knowledge-based method that uses matched series to predict R groups likely to improve activity given an observed activity order for some R groups. We compare the Matsy predictions based on activity data from ChEMBLdb to the recommendations of the Topliss Tree and carry out a large scale retrospective test to measure performance. We show that the basis for predictive success is preferred orders in matched series and that this preference is stronger for longer series. The Matsy algorithm allows medicinal chemists to integrate activity trends from diverse medicinal chemistry programmes and apply them to problems of interest as a Topliss-like recommendation or as a hypothesis generator to aid compound design.

Concepts: Scientific method, Molecule, Prediction, Futurology, Prophecy, Chemistry, Atom, Hypothesis


D-amino acid oxidase (DAAO) catalyzes the oxidation of D-amino acids including D-serine, a co-agonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor. We identified a series of 4-hydroxypyridazin-3(2H)-one derivatives as novel DAAO inhibitors with high potency and substantial cell permeability using fragment-based drug design. Comparisons of complex structures deposited in a Protein Data Bank as well as those determined with in-house fragment hits revealed that a hydrophobic sub-pocket was formed perpendicular to the flavin ring by flipping Tyr224 in a compound-dependent manner. We investigated the ability of the initial fragment hit, 3-hydroxy-pyridine-2(1H)-one, to fill this sub-pocket with the aid of complex structure information. 3-Hydroxy-5-(2-phenylethyl)pyridine-2(1H)-one exhibited the predicted binding mode and demonstrated high inhibitory activity for human DAAO in enzyme- and cell-based assays. We further designed and synthesized 4-hydroxypyridazin-3(2H)-one derivatives, which are equivalent to the 3-hydroxy-pyridine-2(1H)-one series but lack cell toxicity. 6-[2-(3,5-Difluorophenyl)ethyl]-4-hydroxypyridazin-3(2H)-one was found to be effective against MK-801-induced cognitive deficit in the Y-maze.

Concepts: Protein, Pharmacology, Amino acid, Acid, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Hydrogen, D-amino acid dehydrogenase


DNA binding 4-(1-methyl-1H-pyrrol-3-yl)benzenamine (MPB) building blocks have been developed that span two DNA base pairs with a strong preference for GC-rich DNA. They have been conjugated to a pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepine (PBD) molecule to produce C8-linked PBD-MPB hybrids that can stabilize GC-rich DNA by up to 13-fold compared to AT-rich DNA. Some have subpicomolar IC50 values in human tumor cell lines and in primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells, while being up to 6 orders less cytotoxic in the non-tumor cell line WI38, suggesting that key DNA sequences may be relevant targets in these ultrasensitive cancer cell lines. One conjugate, 7h (KMR-28-39), which has femtomolar activity in the breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231, has significant dose-dependent antitumor activity in MDA-MB-231 (breast) and MIA PaCa-2 (pancreatic) human tumor xenograft mouse models with insignificant toxicity at therapeutic doses. Preliminary studies suggest that 7h may sterically inhibit interaction of the transcription factor NF-κB with its cognate DNA binding sequence.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Cancer, Breast cancer, Oncology, Base pair, Chemotherapy, Leukemia