Synthesis of azulene-based compounds for targeting orexin receptors

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Orexin peptides, orexin-A and orexin-B, and orexin receptor 1 and orexin receptor 2 form the orexin signaling system. The most studied part of the orexin system is its key role in sleep-wake regulation, although it is linked also to other physiological functions, such as addiction and nociception. To date, a large number of orexin receptor antagonists have been developed with one, suvorexant, having reached the market in the treatment of insomnia. However, much less attention has been paid to the development of small-molecular agonists of the orexin receptors, and only a few are known in the literature. Agonists might be beneficial for patients with narcolepsy or certain types of cancers. The aim of this thesis was to develop small molecules based on the azulene scaffold for targeting orexin receptors. Azulene is an unexplored ring structure in medicinal chemistry, however, it resembles other bicyclic aromatics such as indole and naphthalene, which are frequently found in drug molecules. The small number of existing general synthetic routes for azulenes possessing three or more substituents has most likely hindered the use of azulene-based compounds in medicinal chemistry. Due to this, the study was initiated by developing two different synthetic routes to access 1,3,6-trisubstituted azulenes. In the developed methods, the azulene scaffold was first synthesized from simple, readily available and inexpensive starting materials. Then the scaffold was functionalized via versatile synthetic handles, such as a halogen atom or a formyl group, which allow a facile generation of compound series. The efficiency of the synthetic routes was demonstrated with test substances, which gave good overall yields. The developed methods were used in the synthesis of azulene-based compounds, whose biological activity was assessed on the orexin receptors. The first series of compounds was based on the results from virtual screening of the library of 70 000 synthetically accessible azulene-based compounds. The second series was designed based on the results from the biological evaluation of the first series. With this approach, novel azulene-based ligands for orexin receptors were identified. The two most promising binders had Ki values in the low micromolar range and five other compounds acted as weak orexin receptor agonists. In addition, compounds potentiating the response of orexin-A to OX1 receptors in a concentration-dependent manner were discovered. These novel azulene-based compounds offer an interesting starting point for further development of antagonists, agonists and potentiators for orexin receptors.
  • Wallen, Erik, Handledare
  • Yli-Kauhaluoma, Jari, Handledare
Tryckta ISBN978-951-51-4358-7
Elektroniska ISBN978-951-51-4359-4
StatusPublicerad - 2018
MoE-publikationstypG5 Doktorsavhandling (artikel)

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