Discovery of Novel Small Molecule Dual Inhibitors Targeting Toll-Like Receptors 7 and 8

Endosomal toll-like receptors (TLRs) 7 and 8 recognize viral single-stranded RNAs, a class of imidazoquinoline compounds, 8-oxo-adenosines, 8-aminobenzodiazepines, pyrimidines, and guanosine analogues. Substantial evidence is present linking chronic inflammation mediated specifically by TLR7 to the progression of autoimmunity. We identified a new TLR7/8 dual inhibitor (1) and a TLR8-specific inhibitor (2) based on our previous screen targeting TLR8. Compound 1, bearing a benzanilide scaffold, was found to inhibit TLR7 and TLR8 at low micromolar concentrations. We envisioned making modifications on the benzanilide scaffold of 1 resulting in a class of highly specific TLR7 inhibitors. Our efforts led to the discovery of a new TLR8 inhibitor (CU-115) and identification of a TLR7/8 dual inhibitor (CU-72), bearing a distinct diphenyl ether skeleton, with potential for TLR7 selectivity optimization. Given the role of TLR8 in autoimmunity, we also optimized the potency of 2 and developed a new TLR8 inhibitor bearing a 1,3,4-oxadiazole motif.