The identification and characterisation of novel inhibitors of the 17β-HSD10 enzyme for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease
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In 2015, an estimated 46.8 million people were living with dementia, a number predicted to increase to 74.7 million by 2030 and 131.5 million by 2050. Whilst there are numerous causes for the development of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common, accounting for approximately 50-70% of all cases. Current therapeutic agents against Alzheimer’s disease are palliative in nature, managing symptoms without addressing the underlying cause and thus disease progression and patient death remain a certainty. Whilst the main underlying cause for the development of Alzheimer’s disease was originally thought to be an abnormal deposition of insoluble amyloid-β peptide derived plaques within the brain, the failure of several high-profile therapeutic agents, which were shown to reduce the plaque burden without improving cognition, has recently prompted a shift in focus to soluble oligomeric forms of amyloid-β peptide. Such soluble oligomers have been shown to be toxic in their own right and to precede plaque deposition. Soluble amyloid-β oligomers have been identified in various subcellular compartments, including the mitochondria, where they form a complex with the 17β-HSD10 enzyme resulting in cytotoxicity. Interestingly, hallmarks of this toxicity have been shown to be dependent on the catalytic activity of the 17β-HSD10 enzyme, suggesting two therapeutic approaches may hold merit in treating Alzheimer’s disease: disrupting the interaction between the 17β-HSD10 enzyme and amyloid-β peptide, or directly inhibiting the catalytic activity of the 17β-HSD10 enzyme. In 2006, Frentizole was identified as a small molecule capable of disrupting the 17β-HSD10/amyloid interaction. The work described herein details the generation of a robust screening assay allowing the catalytic activity of the 17β-HSD10 enzyme to be measured in vitro. This assay was subsequently employed for small molecule screening using two methodologies; first in a targeted approach using compounds derived from the Frentizole core scaffold, and second in an explorative manner using a diverse library of compounds supplied by the National Cancer Institute. As a result, a range of novel small molecule inhibitors of the 17β-HSD10 enzyme have been identified and the most promising characterised in terms of potency and mechanism of action. De-selection assays were developed to allow the efficient triage of hit compounds and work was begun on a cellular based assay which would allow the ability of compounds of interest to reverse a disease relevant phenotype to be assessed in a cellular environment. As such, we now have a number of hit compounds which will form the basis for the generation of subsequent series of derivatives with improved potency and specificity, as well as the robust assays required to measure such criteria, potentially leading to the generation of novel therapeutic agents against Alzheimer’s disease.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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