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J Mol Neurosci. 2006;30(1-2):19-20.

Ispronicline: a novel alpha4beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-selective agonist with cognition-enhancing and neuroprotective properties.

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Preclinical Research, Targacept Inc., Winston-Salem, NC 27101, USA.


To date, the primary treatments for Alzheimer's disease with proven efficacy have been acetylcholinesterase inhibitors that prevent the hydrolysis of acetylcholine (ACh) in the synaptic cleft, thereby prolonging its activity. Although these agents have some benefit in alleviating cognitive impairment, they have limited clinical utility because of insufficient efficacy and marginal tolerability. Within the last decade, there has been much experimental support for the use of therapeutics that directly target nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChRs) to improve cognitive function and slow neurodegenerative disease progression. These findings have spurred considerable research efforts to develop ligands selective for nAChRs, such as ABT-418 (Arneric et al., 1995), SIB-1553 (Bontempi et al., 2001), TC-2403 (Lippiello et al., 1996), and TC-2559 (Bencherif et al., 2000). There is abundant evidence that nAChR modulators have the potential to alleviate cognitive impairment in demented states. In addition to improving cognitive function, a large body of research implicates a role for nAChRs in neuroprotection, suggesting potential for disease modification. An impact of nAChR agonists on disease progression would provide an advantage over currently available treatments for memory loss. The profile of previous nAChR-targeted clinical candidates has not been adequate to warrant further development owing to poor oral bioavailability, side effects, and/or lack of efficacy. Thus, a challenge in nAChR drug design and development has been the reduction of undesirable effects that result from activity at specific nAChRs in the CNS and PNS, including cardiovascular toxicity, emesis, seizures, and hypothermia.

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