On the Design and Synthesis of Hepatitis C Virus NS3 Protease Inhibitors : From Tripeptides to Achiral Compounds
Sammanfattning: Infection by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) leads to inflammation of the liver, i.e. hepatitis. The acute infection often progresses to a chronic phase during which the liver function is gradually impaired. Approximately 20% of these chronic cases develop liver cirrhosis, with an ensuing increased risk of liver cancer. Global estimates of the total number of chronic cases range from 123–170 million. Yet, neither specific anti-HCV drugs nor vaccines are available. When drugs become available for daily clinical use, rapid development of drug-resistant strains is expected, making resistance an important issue.One of the most studied targets for specific anti-HCV drugs is the NS3 protease. The main objectives of the work presented in this thesis were to design and synthesise peptidomimetic inhibitors of this enzyme, and to establish the structure–activity relationships (SARs) regarding the inhibition of the wild type as well as of the known resistant variants A156T and D168V.Substituted prolines are common P2 residues in HCV NS3 protease inhibitors. To decrease the peptide character of the inhibitors, the non-coded phenylglycine was evaluated as a proline replacement in combination with known and novel P3 and P1 residues and P2 substituents. The results confirmed that phenylglycine is a promising P2 scaffold, with a possible ?-stacking interaction with histidine 57 of the active site. However, to benefit from its full potential, additional optimisation is required.A 2(1H)-pyrazinone-based scaffold was introduced as P3 residue. Utilising the scope of the method developed for the pyrazinone scaffold synthesis, the phenylglycine side-chain was transferred to the scaffold. In combination with an aromatic P1 building-block, this design yielded achiral, peptidomimetic inhibitors, three times more potent than the tripeptide lead.The SARs for the inhibition of the resistant variants A156T and D168V were investigated for compounds based on either P2 proline or phenylglycine. It was concluded that the vulnerability of the inhibitors to alterations in the enzyme depends on the P2 and the P1 residue, not only on the P2 as previously suggested.These results provide important information for the design of a new generation of inhibitors with improved properties.
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