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Fighting Obesity with a Sugar-Based Library: Discovery of Novel MCH-1R Antagonists by a New Computational–VAST Approach for Exploration of GPCR Binding Sites

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journal contribution
posted on 24.05.2013, 00:00 by Alexander Heifetz, Oliver Barker, Geraldine Verquin, Norbert Wimmer, Wim Meutermans, Sandeep Pal, Richard J. Law, Mark Whittaker
Obesity is an increasingly common disease. While antagonism of the melanin-concentrating hormone-1 receptor (MCH-1R) has been widely reported as a promising therapeutic avenue for obesity treatment, no MCH-1R antagonists have reached the market. Discovery and optimization of new chemical matter targeting MCH-1R is hindered by reduced HTS success rates and a lack of structural information about the MCH-1R binding site. X-ray crystallography and NMR, the major experimental sources of structural information, are very slow processes for membrane proteins and are not currently feasible for every GPCR or GPCR–ligand complex. This situation significantly limits the ability of these methods to impact the drug discovery process for GPCR targets in “real-time”, and hence, there is an urgent need for other practical and cost-efficient alternatives. We present here a conceptually pioneering approach that integrates GPCR modeling with design, synthesis, and screening of a diverse library of sugar-based compounds from the VAST technology (versatile assembly on stable templates) to provide structural insights on the MCH-1R binding site. This approach creates a cost-efficient new avenue for structure-based drug discovery (SBDD) against GPCR targets. In our work, a primary VAST hit was used to construct a high-quality MCH-1R model. Following model validation, a structure-based virtual screen yielded a 14% hit rate and 10 novel chemotypes of potent MCH-1R antagonists, including EOAI3367472 (IC50 = 131 nM) and EOAI3367474 (IC50 = 213 nM).