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J Med Chem. 2018 Jan 11;61(1):84-97. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b00932. Epub 2017 Oct 27.

Phenotypic Optimization of Urea-Thiophene Carboxamides To Yield Potent, Well Tolerated, and Orally Active Protective Agents against Aminoglycoside-Induced Hearing Loss.

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Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington 98195, United States.
AMRI , Albany, New York 12203, United States.
NuPharmAdvise LLC , Sanbornton, New Hampshire 03269 United States.
Oricula Therapeutics , Seattle, Washington 98154, United States.
Center for Discovery of New Molecules, University of Michigan , Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States.
Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington 98195, United States.


Hearing loss is a major public health concern with no pharmaceutical intervention for hearing protection or restoration. Using zebrafish neuromast hair cells, a robust model for mammalian auditory and vestibular hair cells, we identified a urea-thiophene carboxamide, 1 (ORC-001), as protective against aminoglycoside antibiotic (AGA)-induced hair cell death. The 50% protection (HC50) concentration conferred by 1 is 3.2 μM with protection against 200 μM neomycin approaching 100%. Compound 1 was sufficiently safe and drug-like to validate otoprotection in an in vivo rat hearing loss model. We explored the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of this compound series to improve otoprotective potency, improve pharmacokinetic properties and eliminate off-target activity. We present the optimization of 1 to yield 90 (ORC-13661). Compound 90 protects mechanosensory hair cells with HC50 of 120 nM and demonstrates 100% protection in the zebrafish assay and superior physiochemical, pharmacokinetic, and toxicologic properties, as well as complete in vivo protection in rats.

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