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 <b>9</b>, 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.