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J Med Chem. 2014 Dec 11;57(23):10144-61. doi: 10.1021/jm501552x. Epub 2014 Dec 2.

Trends and exceptions of physical properties on antibacterial activity for Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens.

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Infection Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals , 35 Gatehouse Drive, Waltham, Massachusetts 02451, United States.


To better understand the difficulties surrounding the identification of novel antibacterial compounds from corporate screening collections, physical properties of ∼3200 antibacterial project compounds with whole cell activity against Gram-negative or Gram-positive pathogens were profiled and compared to actives found from high throughput (HTS) screens conducted on both biochemical and phenotypic bacterial targets. The output from 23 antibacterial HTS screens illustrated that when compared to the properties of the antibacterial project compounds, the HTS actives were significantly more hydrophobic than antibacterial project compounds (typically 2-4 log units higher), and furthermore, for 14/23 HTS screens, the average clogD was higher than the screening collection average (screening collection clogD = 2.45). It was found that the consequences of this were the following: (a) lead identification programs often further gained hydrophobic character with increased biochemical potency, making the separation even larger between the physicochemical properties of known antibacterial agents and the HTS active starting point, (b) the probability of plasma protein binding and cytotoxicity are often increased, and (c) cell-based activity in Gram-negative bacteria was severely limited or, if present, demonstrated significant efflux. Our analysis illustrated that compounds least susceptible to efflux were those which were highly polar and small in MW or very large and typically zwitterionic. Hydrophobicity was often the dominant driver for HTS actives but, more often than not, precluded whole cell antibacterial activity. However, simply designing polar compounds was not sufficient for antibacterial activity and pointed to a lack of understanding of complex and specific bacterial penetration mechanisms.

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