Synthesis of a Naphthyridone p38 MAP Kinase Inhibitor

Compound 1 is a p38 MAP kinase inhibitor potentially useful for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. A novel six-step synthesis suitable for large-scale preparation was developed in support of a drug development program at Merck Research Laboratories. The key steps include a tandem Heck-lactamization, N-oxidation, and a highly chemoselective Grignard addition of 4-(N-tert-butylpiperidinyl)magnesium chloride to a naphthyridone N-oxide. The N-oxide exerted complete chemoselectivity via chelation in directing the Grignard addition to the α position as opposed to 1,4-addition on the ene-lactam. The dihydropyridyl adduct was in situ aromatized with isobutylchloroformate followed by heating in pyridine. Syntheses of Grignard precursor, N-tert-butyl-4-chloro-piperidine, were accomplished via transamination with a quaternary ammonium piperidone or via addition of methylmagnesium chloride to an iminium ion. Utilizing this chemistry, multi-kilogram preparation of compound 1 was successfully demonstrated.