Discovery of Indazoles as Potent, Orally Active Dual Neurokinin 1 Receptor Antagonists and Serotonin Transporter Inhibitors for the Treatment of Depression

Combination studies of neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptor antagonists and serotonin-selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have shown promise in preclinical models of depression. Such a combination may offer important advantages over the current standard of care. Herein we describe the discovery and optimization of an indazole-based chemotype to provide a series of potent dual NK1 receptor antagonists/serotonin transporter (SERT) inhibitors to overcome issues of ion channel blockade. This effort culminated in the identification of compound 9, an analogue that demonstrated favorable oral bioavailability, excellent brain uptake, and robust in vivo efficacy in a validated depression model. Over the course of this work, a novel heterocycle-directed asymmetric hydrogenation was developed to facilitate installation of the key stereogenic center.