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Cell Chem Biol. 2019 Oct 16. pii: S2451-9456(19)30317-4. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2019.09.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Recent Advances in Selective and Irreversible Covalent Ligand Development and Validation.

Author information

1
Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA; Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
2
Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA; Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA. Electronic address: nathanael_gray@dfci.harvard.edu.
3
Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA. Electronic address: milka_kostic@dfci.harvard.edu.

Abstract

Some of the most widely used drugs, such as aspirin and penicillin, are covalent drugs. Covalent binding can improve potency, selectivity, and duration of the effects, but the intrinsic reactivity represents a potential liability and may result in idiosyncratic toxicity. For decades, the cons were believed to outweigh the pros, and covalent targeting was deprioritized in drug discovery. Recently, several covalent inhibitors have been approved for cancer treatment, thus rebooting the field. In this review, we briefly reflect on the history of selective covalent targeting, and provide a comprehensive overview of emerging developments from a chemical biology stand-point. Our discussion will reflect on efforts to validate irreversible covalent ligands, expand the scope of targets, and discover new ligands and warheads. We conclude with a brief commentary of remaining limitations and emerging opportunities in selective covalent targeting.

KEYWORDS:

activity-based protein profiling; chemical probes; chemoproteomics; covalent chemical probes; covalent inhibitors; rigor and reproducibility; targeted covalent inhibitors

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