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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Nov;55(11):5099-106. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00432-11. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Discovery of a novel class of orally active antifungal beta-1,3-D-glucan synthase inhibitors.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases, Merck Research Laboratories, Kenilworth, New Jersey 07033, USA.


The echinocandins are a class of semisynthetic natural products that target β-1,3-glucan synthase (GS). Their proven clinical efficacy combined with minimal safety issues has made the echinocandins an important asset in the management of fungal infection in a variety of patient populations. However, the echinocandins are delivered only parenterally. A screen for antifungal bioactivities combined with mechanism-of-action studies identified a class of piperazinyl-pyridazinones that target GS. The compounds exhibited in vitro activity comparable, and in some cases superior, to that of the echinocandins. The compounds inhibit GS in vitro, and there was a strong correlation between enzyme inhibition and in vitro antifungal activity. In addition, like the echinocandins, the compounds caused a leakage of cytoplasmic contents from yeast and produced a morphological response in molds characteristic of GS inhibitors. Spontaneous mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae with reduced susceptibility to the piperazinyl-pyridazinones had substitutions in FKS1. The sites of these substitutions were distinct from those conferring resistance to echinocandins; likewise, echinocandin-resistant isolates remained susceptible to the test compounds. Finally, we present efficacy and pharmacokinetic data on an example of the piperazinyl-pyridazinone compounds that demonstrated efficacy in a murine model of Candida glabrata infection.

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