Publications by authors named "Brian Lord"

63 Publications

Discovery and SAR studies of 2-alkyl-3-phenyl-2,4,5,6,7,8-hexahydropyrazolo[3,4-d]azepines as 5-HT inhibitors leading to the identification of a clinical candidate.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2021 01 7;31:127669. Epub 2020 Nov 7.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA 92121, United States.

We report here the synthesis and characterization of a dual 5-HT / 5-HT receptor antagonist 3-(4-Fluoro-phenyl)-2-isopropyl-2,4,5,6,7,8-hexahydro-1,2,6-triaza-azulene (4j). 4j is a high affinity 5-HT and 5-HT receptor ligand having a pK = 8.1 at both receptors. It behaves as an antagonist in an in vitro functional assay for 5-HT and as an inverse agonist in an in vitro functional assay for 5-HT. In a validated in vivo model for central 5-HT activity in rats, blockade of 5-carboxamidotryptamine (5-CT) induced hypothermia, 4j shows efficacy at low doses (ED = 0.05 mg/kg, p.o., 1 h) and maximal efficacy was observed at 0.3 mg/kg p.o. with a corresponding plasma concentration of ~27 ng/ml. In a validated in vivo model for central 5-HT activity, blockade of 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI) induced head-twitches in mice, 4j shows efficacy at low doses with an ED = 0.3 mg/kg p.o. Ex vivo receptor binding studies demonstrate that 4j occupied 5-HT receptor binding sites in the frontal cortex of the rat brain with an ED in good agreement with the ED value for central functional effect mediated by 5-HT receptor (ED = 0.8 mg/kg, p.o., 1 h).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2020.127669DOI Listing
January 2021

Substituted Azabicyclo[2.2.1]heptanes as Selective Orexin-1 Antagonists: Discovery of JNJ-54717793.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2020 Oct 27;11(10):2002-2009. Epub 2020 Apr 27.

Janssen Research & Development L.L.C., 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

The orexin system consists of two neuropeptides (orexin-A and orexin-B) that exert their mode of action on two receptors (orexin-1 and orexin-2). While the role of the orexin-2 receptor is established as an important modulator of sleep wake states, the role of the orexin-1 receptor is believed to play a role in addiction, panic, or anxiety. In this manuscript, we describe the optimization of a nonselective substituted azabicyclo[2.2.1]heptane dual orexin receptor antagonist (DORA) into orally bioavailable, brain penetrating, selective orexin-1 receptor (OX1R) antagonists. This resulted in the discovery of our first candidate for clinical development, JNJ-54717793.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.0c00085DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7549262PMC
October 2020

Translational evaluation of novel selective orexin-1 receptor antagonist JNJ-61393215 in an experimental model for panic in rodents and humans.

Transl Psychiatry 2020 09 7;10(1):308. Epub 2020 Sep 7.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, CA, USA.

Orexin neurons originating in the perifornical and lateral hypothalamic area project to anxiety- and panic-associated neural circuitry, and are highly reactive to anxiogenic stimuli. Preclinical evidence suggests that the orexin system, and particularly the orexin-1 receptor (OX1R), may be involved in the pathophysiology of panic and anxiety. Selective OX1R antagonists thus may constitute a potential new treatment strategy for panic- and anxiety-related disorders. Here, we characterized a novel selective OX1R antagonist, JNJ-61393215, and determined its affinity and potency for human and rat OX1R in vitro. We also evaluated the safety, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamic properties of JNJ-61393215 in first-in-human single- and multiple-ascending dose studies conducted. Finally, the potential anxiolytic effects of JNJ-61393215 were evaluated both in rats and in healthy men using 35% CO inhalation challenge to induce panic symptoms. In the rat CO model of panic anxiety, JNJ-61393215 demonstrated dose-dependent attenuation of CO-induced panic-like behavior without altering baseline locomotor or autonomic activity, and had minimal effect on spontaneous sleep. In phase-1 human studies, JNJ-61393215 at 90 mg demonstrated significant reduction (P < 0.02) in CO-induced fear and anxiety symptoms that were comparable to those obtained using alprazolam. The most frequently reported adverse events were somnolence and headache, and all events were mild in severity. These results support the safety, tolerability, and anxiolytic effects of JNJ-61393215, and validate CO exposure as a translational cross-species experimental model to evaluate the therapeutic potential of novel anxiolytic drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-00937-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7477545PMC
September 2020

Design, Synthesis, and Preclinical Evaluation of 3-Methyl-6-(5-thiophenyl)-1,3-dihydro-imidazo[4,5-]pyridin-2-ones as Selective GluN2B Negative Allosteric Modulators for the Treatment of Mood Disorders.

J Med Chem 2020 09 28;63(17):9181-9196. Epub 2020 Aug 28.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121-1126, United States.

Selective inhibitors of the GluN2B subunit of -methyl-d-aspartate receptors in the ionotropic glutamate receptor superfamily have been targeted for the treatment of mood disorders. We sought to identify structurally novel, brain penetrant, GluN2B-selective inhibitors suitable for evaluation in a clinical setting in patients with major depressive disorder. We identified a new class of negative allosteric modulators of GluN2B that contain a 1,3-dihydro-imidazo[4,5-]pyridin-2-one core. This series of compounds had poor solubility properties and poor permeability, which was addressed utilizing two approaches. First, a series of structural modifications was conducted which included replacing hydrogen bond donor groups. Second, enabling formulation development was undertaken in which a stable nanosuspension was identified for lead compound . Compound was found to have robust target engagement in rat with an ED of 1.4 mg/kg. The nanosuspension enabled sufficient margins in preclinical toleration studies to nominate for progression into advanced good laboratory practice studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b02113DOI Listing
September 2020

Putative role of GPR139 on sleep modulation using pharmacological and genetic rodent models.

Eur J Pharmacol 2020 Sep 9;882:173256. Epub 2020 Jun 9.

Department of Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C, San Diego, CA, USA. Electronic address:

GPR139 is a G-protein coupled receptor expressed in circumventricular regions of the habenula and septum. Amino acids L-tryptophan and L-phenylalanine have been shown to activate GPR139 at physiologically relevant concentrations. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of GPR139 on sleep modulation using pharmacological and genetic (GPR139 knockout mice, KO) rodent models. To evaluate the effects of GPR139 pharmacological activation on sleep, rats were orally dosed with the selective GPR139 agonist JNJ-63533054 (3-30 mg/kg). When acutely administered at the beginning of the light phase, the GPR139 agonist dose-dependently reduced non-rapid eye movement (NREM) latency and increased NREM sleep duration without altering rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This effect progressively dissipated upon 7-day repeated dosing, suggesting functional desensitization. Under baseline conditions, GPR139 KO mice spent less time in REM sleep compared to their wild type littermates during the dark phase, whereas NREM sleep was not altered. Under conditions of pharmacologically enhanced monoamine endogenous tone, GPR139 KO mice showed a blunted response to citalopram or fluoxetine induced REM sleep suppression and an attenuated response to the wake promoting effect of amphetamine. These findings indicate an emerging role of GPR139 in the modulation of sleep states.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2020.173256DOI Listing
September 2020

Pharmacologic Characterization of JNJ-42226314, [1-(4-Fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone, a Reversible, Selective, and Potent Monoacylglycerol Lipase Inhibitor.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2020 03 9;372(3):339-353. Epub 2019 Dec 9.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, California.

The serine hydrolase monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is the rate-limiting enzyme responsible for the degradation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) into arachidonic acid and glycerol. Inhibition of 2-AG degradation leads to elevation of 2-AG, the most abundant endogenous agonist of the cannabinoid receptors (CBs) CB1 and CB2. Activation of these receptors has demonstrated beneficial effects on mood, appetite, pain, and inflammation. Therefore, MAGL inhibitors have the potential to produce therapeutic effects in a vast array of complex human diseases. The present report describes the pharmacologic characterization of [1-(4-fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone (JNJ-42226314), a reversible and highly selective MAGL inhibitor. JNJ-42226314 inhibits MAGL in a competitive mode with respect to the 2-AG substrate. In rodent brain, the compound time- and dose-dependently bound to MAGL, indirectly led to CB1 occupancy by raising 2-AG levels, and raised norepinephrine levels in cortex. In vivo, the compound exhibited antinociceptive efficacy in both the rat complete Freund's adjuvant-induced radiant heat hypersensitivity and chronic constriction injury-induced cold hypersensitivity models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain, respectively. Though 30 mg/kg induced hippocampal synaptic depression, altered sleep onset, and decreased electroencephalogram gamma power, 3 mg/kg still provided approximately 80% enzyme occupancy, significantly increased 2-AG and norepinephrine levels, and produced neuropathic antinociception without synaptic depression or decreased gamma power. Thus, it is anticipated that the profile exhibited by this compound will allow for precise modulation of 2-AG levels in vivo, supporting potential therapeutic application in several central nervous system disorders. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Potentiation of endocannabinoid signaling activity via inhibition of the serine hydrolase monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is an appealing strategy in the development of treatments for several disorders, including ones related to mood, pain, and inflammation. [1-(4-Fluorophenyl)indol-5-yl]-[3-[4-(thiazole-2-carbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]azetidin-1-yl]methanone is presented in this report to be a novel, potent, selective, and reversible noncovalent MAGL inhibitor that demonstrates dose-dependent enhancement of the major endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol as well as efficacy in models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.119.262139DOI Listing
March 2020

Pharmacology of JNJ-28583113: A novel TRPM2 antagonist.

Eur J Pharmacol 2019 Jun 6;853:299-307. Epub 2019 Apr 6.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA, 92121, USA.

Transient receptor potential melastatin type 2 (TRPM2) is a cation channel activated by free intracellular ADP-ribose and reactive oxygen species. TRPM2 signaling has been linked to the pathophysiology of CNS disorders such as neuropathic pain, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer's disease. In this manuscript, we describe the discovery of JNJ-28583113, a potent brain penetrant TRPM2 antagonist. Ca flux assays in cells overexpressing TRPM2 and electrophysiological recordings were used to test the pharmacology of JNJ-28583113. JNJ-28583113 was assayed in vitro on GSK-3 phosphorylation levels, cell death, cytokine release in microglia and unbiased morphological phenotypic analysis. Finally, we dosed animals to evaluate its pharmacokinetic properties. Our results showed that JNJ-28583113 is a potent (126 ± 0.5 nM) TRPM2 antagonist. Blocking TRPM2 caused phosphorylation of GSK3α and β subunits. JNJ-28583113 also protected cells from oxidative stress induced cell death as well as morphological changes induced by non-cytotoxic concentrations of HO. In addition, inhibiting TRPM2 blunted cytokine release in response to pro-inflammatory stimuli in microglia. Lastly, we showed that JNJ-28583113 was brain penetrant but not suitable for systemic dosing as it was rapidly metabolized in vivo. While the in-vitro pharmacology of JNJ-28583113 is the best in class, its in-vivo properties would need optimization to assist in further probing key roles of TRPM2 in CNS pathophysiology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2019.03.043DOI Listing
June 2019

Characterization of a Selective, Orally Available, and Brain Penetrant Small Molecule GPR139 Agonist.

Front Pharmacol 2019 21;10:273. Epub 2019 Mar 21.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, CA, United States.

Recently, our group along with another demonstrated that GPR139 can be activated by L-phenylalanine (L-Phe) and L-tryptophan (L-Trp) at physiologically relevant concentrations. GPR139 is discretely expressed in brain, with highest expression in medial habenula. Not only are the endogenous ligands catecholamine/serotonin precursors, but GPR139 expressing areas can directly/indirectly regulate the activity of catecholamine/serotonin neurons. Thus, GPR139 appears expressed in an interconnected circuit involved in mood, motivation, and anxiety. The aim of this study was to characterize a selective and brain penetrant GPR139 agonist (JNJ-63533054) in relevant models. JNJ-63533054 was tested for its effect on c-fos activation in the habenula and dorsal striatum. microdialysis experiments were performed in freely moving rats to measure basal levels of serotonin or dopamine (DA) in prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc). Finally, the compound was profiled in behavioral models of anxiety, despair, and anhedonia. The agonist (10-30 mg/kg, p.o.) did not alter c-fos expression in medial habenula or dorsal striatum nor neurotransmitter levels in mPFC or NAc. JNJ-63533054 (10 mg/kg p.o.) produced an anhedonic-like effect on urine sniffing, but had no significant effect in tail suspension, with no interaction with imipramine, no effect on naloxone place aversion, and no effect on learned helplessness. In the marble burying test, the agonist (10 mg/kg p.o.) produced a small anxiolytic-like effect, with no interaction with fluoxetine, and no effect in elevated plus maze (EPM). Despite GPR139 high expression in medial habenula, an area with connections to limbic and catecholaminergic/serotoninergic areas, the GPR139 agonist had no effect on c-fos in medial habenula. It did not alter catecholamine/serotonin levels and had a mostly silent signal in models commonly associated with these pathways. The physiological function of GPR139 remains elusive.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00273DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6437111PMC
March 2019

Discovery of Imidazo[1,2-]pyrazines and Pyrazolo[1,5-]pyrimidines as TARP γ-8 Selective AMPAR Negative Modulators.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2019 Mar 26;10(3):267-272. Epub 2018 Dec 26.

Janssen Research & Development L.L.C., 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121 United States.

This report discloses the discovery and characterization of imidazo[1,2-]pyrazines and pyrazolo[1,5-]pyrimidines as selective negative modulators of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate receptors (AMPARs) associated with transmembrane AMPAR regulatory protein γ-8. Imidazopyrazine was initially identified as a promising γ-8 selective high-throughput screening hit, and subsequent structure-activity relationship optimization yielded subnanomolar, brain penetrant leads. Replacement of the imidazopyrazine core with an isosteric pyrazolopyrimidine scaffold improved microsomal stability and efflux liabilities to provide , JNJ-61432059. Following oral administration, exhibited time- and dose-dependent AMPAR/γ-8 receptor occupancy in mouse hippocampus, which resulted in robust seizure protection in corneal kindling and pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) anticonvulsant models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.8b00599DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6421542PMC
March 2019

1-Pyrrolo[3,2-]pyridine GluN2B-Selective Negative Allosteric Modulators.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2019 Mar 10;10(3):261-266. Epub 2019 Jan 10.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121-1126, United States.

Herein, we disclose a series of selective GluN2B negative allosteric modulators containing a 1-pyrrolo[3,2-]pyridine core. Lead optimization efforts included increasing brain penetration as well as decreasing cytochrome P450 inhibition and hERG channel binding. The series was also optimized to reduce metabolic turnover in human and rat. Compounds , , , and have good in vitro GluN2B potency and good predicted absorption, but moderate to high projected clearance. They were assessed in vivo to determine their target engagement. All four compounds achieved >75% receptor occupancy after an oral dose of 10 mg/kg in rat. Compound receptor occupancy was measured in a dose-response experiment, and its ED was found to be 2.0 mg/kg.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.8b00542DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6421534PMC
March 2019

α6-Containing Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Reconstitution Involves Mechanistically Distinct Accessory Components.

Cell Rep 2019 01;26(4):866-874.e3

Neuroscience Discovery, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA 92121, USA. Electronic address:

Acetylcholine gates a large family of nicotinic receptor cation channels that control neuronal excitation and neurotransmitter release. These receptors are key targets for neuropsychiatric disorders; however, difficulties in expressing nicotinic acetylcholine (nACh) receptors hamper elaboration of their pharmacology and obscure elucidation of their biological functions. Particularly intriguing are α6-containing nACh receptors, which mediate nicotine-induced dopamine release in striatum-nucleus accumbens. Using genome-wide cDNA screening, we identify three accessory proteins, β-anchoring and -regulatory protein (BARP), lysosomal-associated membrane protein 5 (LAMP5), and SULT2B1, that complement the nACh receptor chaperone NACHO to reconstitute α6β2β3 channel function. Whereas NACHO mediates α6β2β3 assembly, BARP primarily enhances channel gating and LAMP5 and SULT2B1 promote receptor surface trafficking. BARP knockout mice show perturbations in presynaptic striatal nACh receptors that are consistent with BARP modulation of receptor desensitization. These studies unravel the molecular complexity of α6β2β3 biogenesis and enable physiological studies of this crucial neuropharmacological target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.12.103DOI Listing
January 2019

Lead Optimization of 5-Aryl Benzimidazolone- and Oxindole-Based AMPA Receptor Modulators Selective for TARP γ-8.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2018 Aug 13;9(8):821-826. Epub 2018 Jul 13.

Janssen Research & Development L.L.C., 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

Glutamate mediates fast excitatory neurotransmission via ionotropic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors. The trafficking and gating properties of AMPA receptors (AMPARs) can be amplified by transmembrane AMPAR regulatory proteins (TARPs), which are often expressed in localized brain regions. Herein, we describe the discovery, lead optimization, and preclinical characterization of 5-arylbenzimidazolone and oxindole-based negative modulators of AMPARs associated with TARP γ-8, the primary TARP found in hippocampus. High-throughput screen lead was optimized for potency and brain penetration to provide benzimidazolone , JNJ-55511118.1 Replacement of the benzimidazolone core in with an oxindole mitigated reactive metabolite formation and led to the identification of (GluA1/γ-8 pIC = 9.7). Following oral dosing in rats, demonstrated robust target engagement in hippocampus as assessed by autoradiography (ED = 0.6 mg/kg, plasma EC = 9 ng/mL).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.8b00215DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088354PMC
August 2018

Neuropsychopharmacology of JNJ-55308942: evaluation of a clinical candidate targeting P2X7 ion channels in animal models of neuroinflammation and anhedonia.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2018 12 9;43(13):2586-2596. Epub 2018 Jul 9.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC. Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, San Diego, CA, 92131, USA.

Emerging data continues to point towards a relationship between neuroinflammation and neuropsychiatric disorders. ATP-induced activation of P2X7 results in IL-1β release causing neuroinflammation and microglial activation. This study describes the in-vitro and in-vivo neuropharmacology of a novel brain-penetrant P2X7 antagonist, JNJ-55308942, currently in clinical development. JNJ-55308942 is a high-affinity, selective, brain-penetrant (brain/plasma of 1) P2X7 functional antagonist. In human blood and in mouse blood and microglia, JNJ-55308942 attenuated IL-1β release in a potent and concentration-dependent manner. After oral dosing, the compound exhibited both dose and concentration-dependent occupancy of rat brain P2X7 with an ED of 0.07 mg/kg. The P2X7 antagonist (3 mg/kg, oral) blocked Bz-ATP-induced brain IL-1β release in conscious rats, demonstrating functional effects of target engagement in the brain. JNJ-55308942 (30 mg/kg, oral) attenuated LPS-induced microglial activation in mice, assessed at day 2 after a single systemic LPS injection (0.8 mg/kg, i.p.), suggesting a role for P2X7 in microglial activation. In a model of BCG-induced depression, JNJ-55308942 dosed orally (30 mg/kg), reversed the BCG-induced deficits of sucrose preference and social interaction, indicating for the first time a role of P2X7 in the BCG model of depression, probably due to the neuroinflammatory component induced by BCG inoculation. Finally, in a rat model of chronic stress induced sucrose intake deficit, JNJ-55308942 reversed the deficit with concurrent high P2X7 brain occupancy as measured by autoradiography. This body of data demonstrates that JNJ-55308942 is a potent P2X7 antagonist, engages the target in brain, modulates IL-1β release and microglial activation leading to efficacy in two models of anhedonia in rodents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0141-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224414PMC
December 2018

A Dipolar Cycloaddition Reaction To Access 6-Methyl-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-1H-[1,2,3]triazolo[4,5-c]pyridines Enables the Discovery Synthesis and Preclinical Profiling of a P2X7 Antagonist Clinical Candidate.

J Med Chem 2018 01 20;61(1):207-223. Epub 2017 Dec 20.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

A single pot dipolar cycloaddition reaction/Cope elimination sequence was developed to access novel 1,4,6,7-tetrahydro-5H-[1,2,3]triazolo[4,5-c]pyridine P2X7 antagonists that contain a synthetically challenging chiral center. The structure-activity relationships of the new compounds are described. Two of these compounds, (S)-(2-fluoro-3-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)(1-(5-fluoropyrimidin-2-yl)-6-methyl-1,4,6,7-tetrahydro-5H-[1,2,3]triazolo[4,5-c]pyridin-5-yl)methanone (compound 29) and (S)-(3-fluoro-2-(trifluoromethyl)pyridin-4-yl)(1-(5-fluoropyrimidin-2-yl)-6-methyl-1,4,6,7-tetrahydro-5H-[1,2,3]triazolo[4,5-c]pyridin-5-yl)methanone (compound 35), were found to have robust P2X7 receptor occupancy at low doses in rat with ED values of 0.06 and 0.07 mg/kg, respectively. Compound 35 had notable solubility compared to 29 and showed good tolerability in preclinical species. Compound 35 was chosen as a clinical candidate for advancement into phase I clinical trials to assess safety and tolerability in healthy human subjects prior to the initiation of proof of concept studies for the treatment of mood disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b01279DOI Listing
January 2018

Evaluation of JNJ-54717793 a Novel Brain Penetrant Selective Orexin 1 Receptor Antagonist in Two Rat Models of Panic Attack Provocation.

Front Pharmacol 2017 9;8:357. Epub 2017 Jun 9.

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, IndianapolisIN, United States.

Orexin neurons originating in the perifornical and lateral hypothalamic area are highly reactive to anxiogenic stimuli and have strong projections to anxiety and panic-associated circuitry. Recent studies support a role for the orexin system and in particular the orexin 1 receptor (OX1R) in coordinating an integrative stress response. However, no selective OX1R antagonist has been systematically tested in two preclinical models of using panicogenic stimuli that induce panic attack in the majority of people with panic disorder, namely an acute hypercapnia-panic provocation model and a model involving chronic inhibition of GABA synthesis in the perifornical hypothalamic area followed by intravenous sodium lactate infusion. Here we report on a novel brain penetrant, selective and high affinity OX1R antagonist JNJ-54717793 (1S,2R,4R)-7-([(3-fluoro-2-pyrimidin-2-ylphenyl)carbonyl]--[5-(trifluoromethyl)pyrazin-2-yl]-7-azabicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-amine). JNJ-54717793 is a high affinity/potent OX1R antagonist and has an excellent selectivity profile including 50 fold versus the OX2R. receptor binding studies demonstrated that after oral administration JNJ-54717793 crossed the blood brain barrier and occupied OX1Rs in the rat brain. While JNJ-54717793 had minimal effect on spontaneous sleep in rats and in wild-type mice, its administration in OX2R knockout mice, selectively promoted rapid eye movement sleep, demonstrating target engagement and specific OX1R blockade. JNJ-54717793 attenuated CO and sodium lactate induced panic-like behaviors and cardiovascular responses without altering baseline locomotor or autonomic activity. These data confirm that selective OX1R antagonism may represent a novel approach of treating anxiety disorders, with no apparent sedative effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2017.00357DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465257PMC
June 2017

4-Methyl-6,7-dihydro-4H-triazolo[4,5-c]pyridine-Based P2X7 Receptor Antagonists: Optimization of Pharmacokinetic Properties Leading to the Identification of a Clinical Candidate.

J Med Chem 2017 06 25;60(11):4559-4572. Epub 2017 May 25.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

The synthesis and preclinical characterization of novel 4-(R)-methyl-6,7-dihydro-4H-triazolo[4,5-c]pyridines that are potent and selective brain penetrant P2X7 antagonists are described. Optimization efforts based on previously disclosed unsubstituted 6,7-dihydro-4H-triazolo[4,5-c]pyridines, methyl substituted 5,6,7,8-tetrahydro[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyrazines, and several other series lead to the identification of a series of 4-(R)-methyl-6,7-dihydro-4H-triazolo[4,5-c]pyridines that are selective P2X7 antagonists with potency at the rodent and human P2X7 ion channels. These novel P2X7 antagonists have suitable physicochemical properties, and several analogs have an excellent pharmacokinetic profile, good partitioning into the CNS and show robust in vivo target engagement after oral dosing. Improvements in metabolic stability led to the identification of JNJ-54175446 (14) as a candidate for clinical development. The drug discovery efforts and strategies that resulted in the identification of the clinical candidate are described herein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b00408DOI Listing
June 2017

NACHO Mediates Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Function throughout the Brain.

Cell Rep 2017 04;19(4):688-696

Neuroscience Discovery, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA 92121, USA. Electronic address:

Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) participate in diverse aspects of brain function and mediate behavioral and addictive properties of nicotine. Neuronal nAChRs derive from combinations of α and β subunits, whose assembly is tightly regulated. NACHO was recently identified as a chaperone for α7-type nAChRs. Here, we find NACHO mediates assembly of all major classes of presynaptic and postsynaptic nAChR tested. NACHO acts at early intracellular stages of nAChR subunit assembly and then synergizes with RIC-3 for receptor surface expression. NACHO knockout mice show profound deficits in binding sites for α-bungarotoxin, epibatidine, and conotoxin MII, illustrating essential roles for NACHO in proper assembly of α7-, α4β2-, and α6-containing nAChRs, respectively. By contrast, GABA receptors are unaffected consistent with NACHO specifically modulating nAChRs. NACHO knockout mice show abnormalities in locomotor and cognitive behaviors compatible with nAChR deficiency and underscore the importance of this chaperone for physiology and disease associated with nAChRs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2017.04.008DOI Listing
April 2017

Identification of (R)-(2-Chloro-3-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)(1-(5-fluoropyridin-2-yl)-4-methyl-6,7-dihydro-1H-imidazo[4,5-c]pyridin-5(4H)-yl)methanone (JNJ 54166060), a Small Molecule Antagonist of the P2X7 receptor.

J Med Chem 2016 09 8;59(18):8535-48. Epub 2016 Sep 8.

Janssen Pharmaceutical Research & Development, LLC , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121 United States.

The synthesis and SAR of a series of 4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-imidazo[4,5-c]pyridine P2X7 antagonists are described. Addressing P2X7 affinity and liver microsomal stability issues encountered with this template afforded methyl substituted 4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-imidazo[4,5-c]pyridines ultimately leading to the identification of 1 (JNJ 54166060). 1 is a potent P2X7 antagonist with an ED50 = 2.3 mg/kg in rats, high oral bioavailability and low-moderate clearance in preclinical species, acceptable safety margins in rats, and a predicted human dose of 120 mg of QD. Additionally, 1 possesses a unique CYP profile and was found to be a regioselective inhibitor of midazolam CYP3A metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00989DOI Listing
September 2016

Critical Evaluation of P2X7 Receptor Antagonists in Selected Seizure Models.

PLoS One 2016 9;11(6):e0156468. Epub 2016 Jun 9.

Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland.

The ATP-gated P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) is a non-selective cation channel which senses high extracellular ATP concentrations and has been suggested as a target for the treatment of neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases. The use of P2X7R antagonists may therefore be a viable approach for treating CNS pathologies, including epileptic disorders. Recent studies showed anticonvulsant potential of P2X7R antagonists in certain animal models. To extend this work, we tested three CNS-permeable P2X7R blocker (Brilliant Blue G, AFC-5128, JNJ-47965567) and a natural compound derivative (tanshinone IIA sulfonate) in four well-characterized animal seizure models. In the maximal electroshock seizure threshold test and the pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) seizure threshold test in mice, none of the four compounds demonstrated anticonvulsant effects when given alone. Notably, in combination with carbamazepine, both AFC-5128 and JNJ-47965567 increased the threshold in the maximal electroshock seizure test. In the PTZ-kindling model in rats, useful for testing antiepileptogenic activities, Brilliant Blue G and tanshinone exhibited a moderate retarding effect, whereas the potent P2X7R blocker AFC-5128 and JNJ-47965567 showed a significant and long-lasting delay in kindling development. In fully kindled rats, the investigated compounds revealed modest effects to reduce the mean seizure stage. Furthermore, AFC-5128- and JNJ-47965567-treated animals displayed strongly reduced Iba 1 and GFAP immunoreactivity in the hippocampal CA3 region. In summary, our results show that P2X7R antagonists possess no remarkable anticonvulsant effects in the used acute screening tests, but can attenuate chemically-induced kindling. Further studies would be of interest to support the concept that P2X7R signalling plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of epileptic disorders.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0156468PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4900628PMC
July 2017

Discovery and Characterization of AMPA Receptor Modulators Selective for TARP-γ8.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2016 May 17;357(2):394-414. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Janssen Research and Development, LLC, Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, San Diego, California (M.P.M., N.W., S.R., M.K.A., B.M.S., C.L., B.L., R.M.W., J.A.M., C.D., S.Y., A.D.W., N.I.C., T.W.L.); and Janssen Research and Development, a Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, Beerse, Belgium (L.V.D., T.S.).

Members of the α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA) subtype of ionotropic glutamate receptors mediate the majority of fast synaptic transmission within the mammalian brain and spinal cord, representing attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we describe novel AMPA receptor modulators that require the presence of the accessory protein CACNG8, also known as transmembrane AMPA receptor regulatory protein γ8 (TARP-γ8). Using calcium flux, radioligand binding, and electrophysiological assays of wild-type and mutant forms of TARP-γ8, we demonstrate that these compounds possess a novel mechanism of action consistent with a partial disruption of the interaction between the TARP and the pore-forming subunit of the channel. One of the molecules, 5-[2-chloro-6-(trifluoromethoxy)phenyl]-1,3-dihydrobenzimidazol-2-one (JNJ-55511118), had excellent pharmacokinetic properties and achieved high receptor occupancy following oral administration. This molecule showed strong, dose-dependent inhibition of neurotransmission within the hippocampus, and a strong anticonvulsant effect. At high levels of receptor occupancy in rodent in vivo models, JNJ-55511118 showed a strong reduction in certain bands on electroencephalogram, transient hyperlocomotion, no motor impairment on rotarod, and a mild impairment in learning and memory. JNJ-55511118 is a novel tool for reversible AMPA receptor inhibition, particularly within the hippocampus, with potential therapeutic utility as an anticonvulsant or neuroprotectant. The existence of a molecule with this mechanism of action demonstrates the possibility of pharmacological targeting of accessory proteins, increasing the potential number of druggable targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.115.231712DOI Listing
May 2016

Brain α7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Assembly Requires NACHO.

Neuron 2016 Mar 11;89(5):948-55. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

Neuroscience Discovery, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA 92121, USA. Electronic address:

Nicotine exerts its behavioral and additive actions through a family of brain nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Enhancing α7-type nAChR signaling improves symptoms in Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. The pharmaceutical study of α7 receptors is hampered because these receptors do not form their functional pentameric structure in cell lines, and mechanisms that underlie α7 receptor assembly in neurons are not understood. Here, a genomic screening strategy solves this long-standing puzzle and identifies NACHO, a transmembrane protein of neuronal endoplasmic reticulum that mediates assembly of α7 receptors. NACHO promotes α7 protein folding, maturation through the Golgi complex, and expression at the cell surface. Knockdown of NACHO in cultured hippocampal neurons or knockout of NACHO in mice selectively and completely disrupts α7 receptor assembly and abolishes α7 channel function. This work identifies NACHO as an essential, client-specific chaperone for nAChRs and has implications for physiology and disease associated with these widely distributed neurotransmitter receptors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2016.01.018DOI Listing
March 2016

P2X7 receptor antagonism reduces the severity of spontaneous seizures in a chronic model of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Neuropharmacology 2016 06 15;105:175-185. Epub 2016 Jan 15.

Department of Translational Neurosciences, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium. Electronic address:

Background: The available pharmacotherapy for patients with epilepsy primarily address the symptoms and are ineffective in about 40% of patients. Brain inflammation gained support as potential target for developing new therapies, especially the P2X7 receptor (P2X7R), involved in processing of IL-1β, might be an interesting candidate. This study was designed to investigate the effect of a novel P2X7R antagonist on the severity and on the number of chronic spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS), which was unexplored until now.

Methods: After one-week of vehicle treatment (20% HP-β-cyclodextrin), JNJ-42253432 was administered subcutaneously for another week under continuous video-electroencephalography monitoring (n = 17) in Sprague Dawley rats 3 months after kainic acid-induced status epilepticus. The proportion of different seizure classes, as well as the number of SRS/day were calculated for the vehicle and treatment period. In addition, post-mortem microglial activation and astrogliosis were assessed.

Results: A significant decrease of the proportion of type 4-5 SRS (p < 0.05), while an increase of type 1-3 was demonstrated (p < 0.05) from the vehicle to the treatment period. There was no effect of the P2X7R antagonist on the number of SRS/day or the glial markers.

Conclusions: The P2X7R antagonist gave rise to a less severe profile of the chronic seizure burden without suppressing the SRS frequency. More studies are needed to unravel the underlying mechanisms of the beneficial effect on seizure severity and whether the administration of the compound during early epileptogenesis could induce long-term disease-modifying effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.01.018DOI Listing
June 2016

Substituted 5,6-(Dihydropyrido[3,4-d]pyrimidin-7(8H)-yl)-methanones as P2X7 Antagonists.

ACS Chem Neurosci 2016 Apr 19;7(4):498-504. Epub 2016 Jan 19.

Janssen Research & Development L.L.C. , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

We describe the synthesis of a novel class of brain penetrating P2X7 antagonists with high potency at both the rat and human P2X7 receptors. Disclosed herein are druglike molecules with demonstrated target engagement of the rat P2X7 receptors after an oral dose. Specifically, compound 20 occupied the P2X7 receptors >80% over the 6 h time course as measured by an ex vivo radioligand binding experiment. In a dose-response assay, this molecule has a plasma EC50 of 8 ng/mL. Overall, 20 has suitable druglike properties and pharmacokinetics in rat and dog. This molecule and others disclosed herein will serve as additional tools to elucidate the role of the P2X7 receptor in neuropsychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00304DOI Listing
April 2016

Novel Phenyl-Substituted 5,6-Dihydro-[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyrazine P2X7 Antagonists with Robust Target Engagement in Rat Brain.

ACS Chem Neurosci 2016 Apr 15;7(4):490-7. Epub 2016 Jan 15.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121-1126, United States.

Novel 5,6-dihydro-[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyrazine P2X7 antagonists were optimized to allow for good blood-brain barrier permeability and high P2X7 target engagement in the brain of rats. Compound 25 (huP2X7 IC50 = 9 nM; rat P2X7 IC50 = 42 nM) achieved 80% receptor occupancy for 6 h when dosed orally at 10 mg/kg in rats as measured by ex vivo radioligand binding autoradiography. Structure-activity relationships within this series are described, as well as in vitro ADME results. In vivo pharmacokinetic data for key compounds is also included.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00303DOI Listing
April 2016

Preclinical characterization of substituted 6,7-dihydro-[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyrazin-8(5H)-one P2X7 receptor antagonists.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2016 Jan 17;26(2):257-261. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

Janssen Pharmaceutical Research & Development L.L.C., 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA 92121, United States.

The synthesis, SAR, and preclinical characterization of a series of substituted 6,7-dihydro[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3]pyrazin-8(5H)-one P2X7 receptor antagonists are described. Optimized leads from this series comprise some of the most potent human P2X7R antagonists reported to date (IC50s<1nM). They also exhibit sufficient potency and oral bioavailability in rat to enable extensive in vivo profiling. Although many of the disclosed compounds are peripherally restricted, compound 11d is brain penetrant and upon oral administration demonstrated dose-dependent target engagement in rat hippocampus as determined by ex vivo receptor occupancy with radiotracer 5 (ED50=0.8mg/kg).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.12.052DOI Listing
January 2016

Identification and SAR of Glycine Benzamides as Potent Agonists for the GPR139 Receptor.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2015 Sep 20;6(9):1015-8. Epub 2015 Jul 20.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC , San Diego, California 92121, United States.

A focused high throughput screening for GPR139 was completed for a select 100K compounds, and new agonist leads were identified. Subsequent analysis and structure-activity relationship studies identified (S)-3-chloro-N-(2-oxo-2-((1-phenylethyl)amino)ethyl)benzamide 7c as a potent and selective agonist of hGPR139 with an EC50 = 16 nM. The compound was found to cross the blood-brain barrier and have good drug-like properties amenable for oral dosing in rat.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.5b00247DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4569879PMC
September 2015

A novel radioligand for the ATP-gated ion channel P2X7: [3H] JNJ-54232334.

Eur J Pharmacol 2015 Oct 18;765:551-9. Epub 2015 Sep 18.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Neuroscience Drug Discovery, 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA 92121-1126, United States.

The ATP-gated ion channel P2X7 has emerged as a potential central nervous system (CNS) drug target based on the hypotheses that pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β that are released by microglia, may contribute to the etiology of various disorders of the CNS including depression. In this study, we identified two closely related P2X7 antagonists, JNJ-54232334 and JNJ-54140515, and then tritium labeled the former to produce a new radioligand for P2X7. JNJ-54232334 is a high affinity ligand for the rat P2X7 with a pKi of 9.3±0.1. In rat cortical membranes, [3H] JNJ-54232334 reached saturable binding with equilibrium dissociation (Kd) constant of 4.9±1.3 nM. The compound displayed monophasic association and dissociation kinetics with fast on and off rates. In rat brain sections, specific binding of [3H] JNJ-54232334 was markedly improved compared to the previously described P2X7 radioligand, [3H] A-804598. In P2X7 knockout mouse brain sections, [3H] A-804598 bound to non-P2X7 binding sites in contrast to [3H] JNJ-54232334. In rat or wild type mouse brain sections [3H] JNJ-54232334 bound in a more homogenous and region independent manner. The ubiquitous expression of P2X7 receptors was confirmed with immunohistochemistry in rat brain sections. The partial displacement of [3H] A-804598 binding resulted in the underestimation of the level of ex vivo P2X7 occupancy for JNJ-54140515. Higher levels of P2X7 ex vivo occupancy were measured using [3H] JNJ-54232334 due to less non-specific binding. In summary, we describe [3H] JNJ-54232334 as a novel P2X7 radioligand, with improved properties over [3H] A-804598.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2015.09.026DOI Listing
October 2015

Characterization of JNJ-42847922, a Selective Orexin-2 Receptor Antagonist, as a Clinical Candidate for the Treatment of Insomnia.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2015 Sep 15;354(3):471-82. Epub 2015 Jul 15.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC, San Diego, California

Dual orexin receptor antagonists have been shown to promote sleep in various species, including humans. Emerging research indicates that selective orexin-2 receptor (OX2R) antagonists may offer specificity and a more adequate sleep profile by preserving normal sleep architecture. Here, we characterized JNJ-42847922 ([5-(4,6-dimethyl-pyrimidin-2-yl)-hexahydro-pyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrol-2-yl]-(2-fluoro-6-[1,2,3]triazol-2-yl-phenyl)-methanone), a high-affinity/potent OX2R antagonist. JNJ-42847922 had an approximate 2-log selectivity ratio versus the human orexin-1 receptor. Ex vivo receptor binding studies demonstrated that JNJ-42847922 quickly occupied OX2R binding sites in the rat brain after oral administration and rapidly cleared from the brain. In rats, single oral administration of JNJ-42847922 (3-30 mg/kg) during the light phase dose dependently reduced the latency to non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and prolonged NREM sleep time in the first 2 hours, whereas REM sleep was minimally affected. The reduced sleep onset and increased sleep duration were maintained upon 7-day repeated dosing (30 mg/kg) with JNJ-42847922, then all sleep parameters returned to baseline levels following discontinuation. Although the compound promoted sleep in wild-type mice, it had no effect in OX2R knockout mice, consistent with a specific OX2R-mediated sleep response. JNJ-42847922 did not increase dopamine release in rat nucleus accumbens or produce place preference in mice after subchronic conditioning, indicating that the compound lacks intrinsic motivational properties in contrast to zolpidem. In a single ascending dose study conducted in healthy subjects, JNJ-42847922 increased somnolence and displayed a favorable pharmacokinetic and safety profile for a sedative/hypnotic, thus emerging as a promising candidate for further clinical development for the treatment of insomnia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.115.225466DOI Listing
September 2015

Synthesis, SAR, and Pharmacological Characterization of Brain Penetrant P2X7 Receptor Antagonists.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2015 Jun 24;6(6):671-6. Epub 2015 Apr 24.

Janssen Research & Development, LLC , 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, United States.

We describe the synthesis and SAR of 1,2,3-triazolopiperidines as a novel series of potent, brain penetrant P2X7 antagonists. Initial efforts yielded a series of potent human P2X7R antagonists with moderate to weak rodent potency, some CYP inhibition, poor metabolic stability, and low solubility. Further work in this series, which focused on the SAR of the N-linked heterocycle, not only increased the potency at the human P2X7R but also provided compounds with good potency at the rat P2X7R. These efforts eventually delivered a potent rat and human P2X7R antagonist with good physicochemical properties, an excellent pharmacokinetic profile, good partitioning into the CNS, and demonstrated in vivo target engagement after oral dosing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.5b00089DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4468405PMC
June 2015

Novel methyl substituted 1-(5,6-dihydro-[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyrazin-7(8H)-yl)methanones are P2X7 antagonists.

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2015 Aug 9;25(16):3157-63. Epub 2015 Jun 9.

Janssen Pharmaceutical Research & Development L.L.C., 3210 Merryfield Row, San Diego, CA 92121, United States. Electronic address:

The optimization efforts that led to a novel series of methyl substituted 1-(5,6-dihydro-[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyrazin-7(8H)-yl)methanones that are potent rat and human P2X7 antagonists are described. These efforts resulted in the discovery of compounds with good drug-like properties that are capable of high P2X7 receptor occupancy in rat following oral administration, including compounds 7n (P2X7 IC50 = 7.7 nM) and 7u (P2X7 IC50 =7 .7 nM). These compounds are expected to be useful tools for characterizing the effects of P2X7 antagonism in models of depression and epilepsy, and several of the compounds prepared are candidates for effective P2X7 PET tracers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.06.004DOI Listing
August 2015