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Med Res Rev. 2005 Jul;25(4):427-52.

Design of translactam HCMV protease inhibitors as potent antivirals.

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  • 1Department of Medicinal Chemistry CVU UK, GlaxoSmithKline Research and Development, Medicines Research Centre, Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage, Herts SG1 2NY, United Kingdom.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is an important pathogen for which there is a significant unmet medical need. New HCMV antivirals, active against novel molecular targets, are undoubtedly needed as the currently available drugs ganciclovir, cidofovir, and foscarnet, which are all viral DNA inhibitors, suffer from limited effectiveness, mainly due to the development of drug resistance, poor bioavailability, and toxicity. One of the newer molecular targets that has been exploited in the search for better drug candidates is HCMV protease. Our deltaAla HCMV protease (wild type variant with the internal cleavage site deleted) was cloned and expressed in E. coli. This viral enzyme was used to develop HCMV protease assays to evaluate potential inhibitors. The chirally pure (SRS)-alpha-methyl pyrrolidine-5,5-trans-lactam template was synthesized, which together with the natural substrate requirements of HCMV protease and detailed SAR, was used to design potent and selective mechanism based inhibitors of HCMV protease. The mechanism of action of these inhibitors of HCMV protease was investigated by ESI/MS, and the X-ray crystal structure of the HCMV protease was used to refine our selective viral enzyme inhibitors to obtain plasma stable antivirals. A novel ELISA antiviral assay was developed which, together with a cytotoxicity assay, enabled us to discover anti-HCMV drug candidates equivalent in potency to ganciclovir that had good pharmacokinetics in the dog and good brain and ocular penetration in the guinea pig.

Copyright 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Med Res Rev.

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