De novo and molecular target-independent discovery of orally bioavailable lead compounds for neurological disorders

Laura K. Wing, Heather A. Behanna, Linda J. Van Eldik, D. Martin Watterson, Hantamalala Ralay Ranaivo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


There is immediate potential to enhance success and innovation in drug development by pairing newly emerging approaches in medicinal chemistry and computational biology with knowledge gained from the recent era of high throughput screens and the early years of modern drug discovery when in vivo efficacy was an early "Go/No Go" project management decision. Focused, in-parallel synthetic chemistry platforms, combined with computational analyses serving as decision aids in planning, minimize the total number of compounds synthesized while maximizing the probability of creating bioavailable compounds that sample diverse chemical space. Incorporating a hierarchal strategy that emphasizes early selection of synthesized compounds based on biological or biophysical endpoints presents fewer and more relevant compounds for secondary evaluation of in vivo efficacy using animal screens with disease relevant or clinically translatable endpoints. We summarize here an interdisciplinary approach at the chemistry-biology interface that is used for the rapid discovery of novel lead compounds for neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). The chemistry platform uses established chemistries amenable to in-parallel strategies to create synthetic diversifications of the privileged pyridazine chemotype that sample a restricted chemical space. The hierarchal biology platform uses primary screens for in vitro activity and selectivity with the target cell type, and rapid secondary screens for in vivo efficacy and toxicity in animal models with good phenotypic penetrance for disease relevant pathophysiological endpoints or clinically translatable surrogate endpoints. For the AD case study, novel lead compounds were developed in less than two years by a small academic group, and corporate sponsored clinical trials are planned.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Alzheimer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cytokine
  • Drug discovery
  • Molecular properties
  • Privileged structure
  • Pyridazine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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