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Author: Ian Churcher (27)


Jan
2018

Targeted protein degradation, using bifunctional small molecules (Protacs) to remove specific proteins from within cells, has emerged as a novel drug discovery strategy with the potential to offer therapeutic interventions not achievable with existing approaches. In this Perspective, the brief history of the field is surveyed from a drug discovery perspective with a focus on the key advances in knowledge which have led to the definition and exemplification of protein degradation concepts and their resulting applications to medicine discovery. The approach has the potential to bring disruptive change to drug discovery; the many potential advantages and outstanding challenges which lie ahead of this technology are discussed.

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Oct
2017

The productive exploration of chemical space is an enduring challenge in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry. Natural products are biologically relevant, and their frameworks have facilitated chemical tool and drug discovery. A "top-down" synthetic approach is described that enabled a range of complex bridged intermediates to be converted with high step efficiency into 26 diverse sp-rich scaffolds.

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Aug
2016

A novel rearrangement of 2-vinyl aziridine 2-carboxylates to unusual chiral cyclic sulfoximines is described herein. The method allows the synthesis of substituted cyclic sulfoximines in high yields with complete stereocontrol, and tolerates a wide substrate scope. A one-pot process starting directly from sulfinimines provides access to complex chiral sulfoximines in only two steps from commercially available aldehydes.

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Jun
2016

Complementary cyclisation reactions of hex-2-ene-1,6-diamine derivatives were exploited in the synthesis of alternative molecular scaffolds. The value of the synthetic approach was analysed using LLAMA, an open-access computational tool for assessing the lead-likeness and novelty of molecular scaffolds.

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Mar
2016

Inhibitors of mitochondrial branched chain aminotransferase (BCATm), identified using fragment screening, are described. This was carried out using a combination of STD-NMR, thermal melt (Tm), and biochemical assays to identify compounds that bound to BCATm, which were subsequently progressed to X-ray crystallography, where a number of exemplars showed significant diversity in their binding modes. The hits identified were supplemented by searching and screening of additional analogues, which enabled the gathering of further X-ray data where the original hits had not produced liganded structures.

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Sep
2015

The hybridization of hits, identified by complementary fragment and high throughput screens, enabled the discovery of the first series of potent inhibitors of mitochondrial branched-chain aminotransferase (BCATm) based on a 2-benzylamino-pyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidinone-3-carbonitrile template. Structure-guided growth enabled rapid optimization of potency with maintenance of ligand efficiency, while the focus on physicochemical properties delivered compounds with excellent pharmacokinetic exposure that enabled a proof of concept experiment in mice. Oral administration of 2-((4-chloro-2,6-difluorobenzyl)amino)-7-oxo-5-propyl-4,7-dihydropyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidine-3-carbonitrile 61 significantly raised the circulating levels of the branched-chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine in this acute study.

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Aug
2015

The current predominant therapeutic paradigm is based on maximizing drug-receptor occupancy to achieve clinical benefit. This strategy, however, generally requires excessive drug concentrations to ensure sufficient occupancy, often leading to adverse side effects. Here, we describe major improvements to the proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs) method, a chemical knockdown strategy in which a heterobifunctional molecule recruits a specific protein target to an E3 ubiquitin ligase, resulting in the target's ubiquitination and degradation.

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Jun
2015

A powerful strategy for the efficient lead-oriented synthesis of novel molecular scaffolds is demonstrated. Twenty two scaffolds were prepared from just four α-amino acid-derived building blocks and a toolkit of six connective reactions. Importantly, each individual scaffold has the ability to specifically target lead-like chemical space.

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Dec
2014

The aza-Darzens reaction of substituted 2-bromoesters with chiral tert-butane- and mesitylsulfinimines provides a rapid access to a range of highly substituted aziridines in good yields and excellent levels of stereoselectivity. The synthetic potential of this protocol is further enhanced by the successful removal of the sulfinyl motif, yielding simple access to chiral N-H aziridines in just three steps from commercial aldehyde precursors.

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Jan
2015

Controlling the properties of lead molecules is critical in drug discovery, but sourcing large numbers of lead-like compounds for screening collections is a major challenge. A unified synthetic approach is described that enabled the synthesis of 52 diverse lead-like molecular scaffolds from a minimal set of 13 precursors. The divergent approach exploited a suite of robust, functional group-tolerant transformations.

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Dec
2013

In this article, we describe a practical drug discovery project for third-year undergraduates. No previous knowledge of medicinal chemistry is assumed. Initial lecture workshops cover the basic principles; then students, in teams, seek to improve the profile of a weakly potent, insoluble phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase delta (PI3Kδ) inhibitor (1) through compound array design, molecular modelling, screening data analysis and the synthesis of target compounds in the laboratory.

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Dec
2013

Mast cells are unique hematopoietic cells that are richly distributed in the skin and mucosal surfaces of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. They play a key role in allergic inflammation by releasing a cocktail of granular constituents, including histamine, serine proteases, and various eicosanoids and cytokines. As such, a number of drugs target either inhibition of mast cell degranulation or the products of degranulation.

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Jan
2012

The pharmaceutical industry remains solely reliant on synthetic chemistry methodology to prepare compounds for small-molecule drug discovery programmes. The importance of the physicochemical properties of these molecules in determining their success in drug development is now well understood but we present here data suggesting that much synthetic methodology is unintentionally predisposed to producing molecules with poorer drug-like properties. This bias may have ramifications to the early hit- and lead-finding phases of the drug discovery process when larger numbers of compounds from array techniques are prepared.

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Jul
2011

Stereoselective synthesis of 2,3-di- and 2,2',3-tri-substituted aziridines in good yields and excellent diastereoselectivities are achieved through aza-Darzens reactions of a range of tert-butanesulfinyl aldimines and ketimines with ethyl bromoacetate.

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Jul
2011

The synthetic utility of S-mesitylsulfinimines for the synthesis of chiral amines and aziridines was examined through their reactions with Grignard reagents, with the ylides derived from trimethylsulfonium iodide and S-allyl-tetrahydrothiophenium bromide and through an aza-Darzens manifold, affording convenient access to a diverse range of highly substituted chiral amines and aziridines in high yields and excellent stereoselectivities.

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Sep
2009

The correct folding of proteins is a fundamental process in the normal physiological functioning of cells, and is mediated by cellular chaperones including members of the Hsp70 family. Many diseases are caused by a failure of cellular chaperones to adequately maintain correct protein folding, and has led to the development of a therapeutic strategy to upregulate the activity of cellular chaperones in order to ameliorate intrinsic folding deficits. A large range of pharmacological agents that can induce cellular chaperones and correct deficits associated with misfolded proteins are known.

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Feb
2007

There is a substantial body of evidence indicating that beta-amyloid peptides (Abeta) are critical factors in the onset and development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). One strategy for combating AD is to reduce or eliminate the production of Abeta through inhibition of the gamma-secretase enzyme, which cleaves Abeta from the amyloid precursor protein (APP). We demonstrate here that chronic treatment for 3 months with 3 mg/kg of the potent, orally bioavailable and brain-penetrant gamma-secretase inhibitor N-[cis-4-[(4-chlorophenyl)-sulfonyl]-4-(2,5-difluorophenyl)cyclohexyl]-1,1,1-trifluoromethanesulfonamide (MRK-560) attenuates the appearance of amyloid plaques in the Tg2576 mouse.

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Oct
2006

Gamma-secretase is one of the critical enzymes required for the generation of amyloid-beta peptides from the beta-amyloid precursor protein. Because amyloid-beta peptides are generally accepted to play a key role in Alzheimer disease, gamma-secretase inhibition holds the promise for a disease-modifying therapy for this neurodegenerative condition. Although recent progress has enhanced the understanding of the biology and composition of the gamma-secretase enzyme complex, less information is available on the actual interaction of various inhibitor classes with the enzyme.

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Dec
1969

The two classical pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease are deposits of aggregated beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptide and neurofibrillary tangles composed of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. In addition to Abeta pathology, an invariant trait of Alzheimer's disease, disruption of tau processing is a necessary event in the neurotoxic cascade which eventually leads to neuronal death and subsequent dementia. Tau is a neuronal, microtubule-bound protein which becomes hyperphosphorylated as a result of an imbalance of the kinase and phosphatase activities which normally tightly regulate its phosphorylation.

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May
2006

Plaques in the parenchyma of the brain containing Abeta peptides are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. These Abeta peptides are produced by the final proteolytic cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein by the intramembraneous aspartyl protease gamma-secretase. Thus, one approach to lowering levels of Abeta has been via the inhibition of the gamma-secretase enzyme.

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Jan
2006

The protease gamma-secretase plays a pivotal role in the synthesis of pathogenic amyloid-beta in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we report a further extension to a series of cyclohexyl sulfone-based gamma-secretase inhibitors which has allowed the preparation of highly potent compounds which also demonstrate robust Abeta(40) lowering in vivo (e.g.

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Dec
1969

An effective, disease-modifying treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) remains one of the most significant unmet needs in modern medicine. As a result of the extensive research in the area, the mechanisms underlying the disease are now much better understood than at any time before. A significant amount of evidence points to the central role of beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptide-mediated toxicity in the disease etiology and strategies to remove this species from the central nervous system (CNS) have been actively pursued.

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Sep
2004

gamma-Secretase is a critical enzyme involved in the production of amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide, one of the main pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. gamma-Secretase cleaves the beta-amyloid precursor protein (betaAPP) at a position predicted to be within the membrane. In addition to betaAPP, gamma-secretase cleaves a range of other substrates.

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Oct
2004

Gamma-secretase is a multi-component enzyme complex that performs an intramembranous cleavage, releasing amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides from processing intermediates of the beta-amyloid precursor protein. Because Abeta peptides are thought to be causative for Alzheimer's disease, inhibiting gamma-secretase represents a potential treatment for this neurodegenerative condition. Whereas inhibitors directed at the active center of gamma-secretase inhibit the cleavage of all its substrates, certain non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been shown to selectively reduce the production of the more amyloidogenic Abeta(1-42) peptide without inhibiting alternative cleavages.

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Jun
2003

Novel benzodiazepine-containing gamma-secretase inhibitors for potential use in Alzheimer's disease have been designed that incorporate a substituted hydrocinnamide C-3 side chain. A syn combination of alpha-alkyl or aryl and beta-hydroxy or hydroxymethyl substituents was shown to give highly potent compounds. In particular, (2S,3R)-3-(3,4-difluorophenyl)-2-(4-fluorophenyl)-4-hydroxy-N-((3S)-2-oxo-5-phenyl-2,3-dihydro-1H-benzo[e][1,4]diazepin-3-yl)butyramide (34) demonstrated excellent in vitro potency (IC(50) = 0.

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Jan
2003

A new series of benzodiazepine-containing gamma-secretase inhibitors with potential use in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease is disclosed. Structure-activity relationships of the pendant hydrocinnamate side-chain which led to the preparation of highly potent inhibitors are described.

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