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Title: Computer-aided design, synthesis and evaluation of potential anti-HCV agents
Author: Bassetto, Marcella
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2013
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of chronic liver disease, leading to hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. A vaccine is currently not available, while the standard of care is effective in only 50% of treated patients. The first specific anti-HCV drugs have been recently approved, and new classes of targeted agents are under clinical trials/investigation. Nevertheless, improved treatment strategies are needed, in order to bypass the rapid emergence of resistance. All the viral non-structural proteins are a possible target for the identification of novel and selective antivirals. Among them, the NS3 helicase is still underexploited, with no known inhibitor under pre-clinical or clinical development. This enzyme plays a crucial role in the virus life cycle: it catalyses the separation of double-stranded RNA strands, which is necessary for genome amplification and translation. Due to its essential function, the NS3 helicase was chosen as a target for the identification of new, specific anti-HCV compounds. Different computer-aided techniques were employed to identify potential smallmolecule inhibitors of the enzyme. Two structure-based virtual screenings of commercially available compounds were performed on the main nucleic acid binding site. A series of candidate inhibitors was evaluated in the HCV replicon assay, yielding two primary hits with low μM activity. Secondly, the model of the one known inhibitor co-crystallised with the enzyme was used as a starting point for a shape-comparison screening of small molecule libraries. A new series of compounds was selected and evaluated for anti-HCV activity, and one of them was found to inhibit the viral replication at a low μM concentration. Several new derivatives of the initial hits were synthesised, belonging to four main structural families: bis-aromatic piperazine derivatives, symmetrical phenylendiamine compounds, differently substituted thieno-pyrimidines, and triphenyl-pyrrolone analogues. Inhibition of HCV replication in the replicon assay was evaluated for the new compounds prepared and several structures showed a range of activity from low-μM to nM.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology ; RS Pharmacy and materia medica