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Publications 2021

A Series of Novel, Highly Potent, and Orally Bioavailable Next-Generation Tricyclic Peptide PCSK9 Inhibitors

A Series of Novel, Highly Potent, and Orally Bioavailable Next-Generation Tricyclic Peptide PCSK9 Inhibitors

Following the first report in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry in 2020, the IRBM peptide chemistry group is proud to announce a new publication on second generation, potent bi- and tricyclic PCSK9 inhibitor peptides in collaboration with the extraordinary drug discovery team at Merck & co. As a breakthrough in the field of macrocycle drugs, the new optimized molecules demonstrated sufficient oral bioavailability to maintain therapeutic levels in rats and cynomolgus monkeys after dosing with an enabled formulation. These candidates represent the first report of highly potent and orally bioavailable macrocyclic peptide PCSK9 inhibitors with overall profiles favorable for potential development as once-daily oral lipid-lowering agents.

Discovery and characterization of novel peptide inhibitors of the NRF2/MAFG/DNA ternary complex for the treatment of cancer

Discovery and characterization of novel peptide inhibitors of the NRF2/MAFG/DNA ternary complex for the treatment of cancerOur Peptide chemistry team, in collaboration with the scientists at Merck and Co., reported on the design, synthesis and characterization of potent and stable peptides able to inhibit the binding of NRF2-MAFG heterodimeric transcription factor to Antioxidant Response Element (ARE) DNA sequence: these peptides may represent the starting point toward the development of therapeutic agents for tumors with a dysregulated NRF2-dependent pathway. Very complex peptide heterodimers of long NRF2 and MAFG fragments exploiting various heterodimerization chemistries were generated based on a novel hybrid homology model built from the published crystal structure of the homodimeric MAFG/MAFG complex on DNA and the NMR structure of the NRF2 N-terminal loops of the DNA-binding domain. This type of strategy could prove useful to identify inhibitors of transcription factors inhibitors beyond NRF2.

Targeting of eIF6-driven translation induces a metabolic rewiring that reduces NAFLD and the consequent evolution to hepatocellular carcinoma

Targeting of eIF6-driven translation induces a metabolic rewiring that reduces NAFLD and the consequent evolution to hepatocellular carcinomaAt IRBM we are passionate about helping companies develop medicines in a wide range of diseases and our scientists support the fundamental understanding of disease mechanisms. Science is about collaboration, and publication is an integral part of the scientific process. So, we are delighted to have out latest scientific paper published, produced in collaboration with several institutions including the University of Milan, and Milan’s Istituto Nazionale di Genetica Molecolare (INGM). The paper in Nature Communications looked at whether a specific element of hepatocellular (liver) cancer progression can be reduced (depleted) by decreasing eukaryotic Initiation Factor 6 (eIF6) activity in the liver. The accumulation of lipids in the liver is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The potential evolution of NAFLD to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) makes NAFLD of clinical importance. We provide proof-of-concept that in vitro pharmacological inhibition of eIF6 activity recapitulates the protective effects of eIF6 depletion. This suggests the existence of a targetable, evolutionarily conserved translation circuit optimized for lipid accumulation and tumor progression. The development of specific eIF6 inhibitors to help regulate lipid metabolism could provide a therapeutic target in the NAFLD-HCC progression.

IRBM cited in UniQure publication on using HTT-lowering therapies to slow down neurodegeneration in Huntington’s Disease

UniQure has just published a study in Science Translational Medicine using a Huntingtin (HTT)-lowering therapy. IRBM is delighted to have been able to contribute to this pivotal work and to be cited on the publication.

Huntingtin is the gene that causes Huntington’s and therapies attempting to lower the levels hold the potential to slow down neurogeneration. UniQure’s approach uses recombinant adeno-associated viral vector serotype 5 expressing a microRNA targeting human HTT (rAAV5-miHTT).

The study demonstrates widespread biodistribution, strong and durable efficiency of rAAV5-miHTT in disease-relevant regions in a large brain. These results pave the way to future studies which look to advance treatment options for Huntington’s Disease.

Identification of Potent and Long-Acting Single-Chain Peptide Mimetics of Human Relaxin-2 for Cardiovascular Diseases

IRBM and Sanofi publish in J. Med. Chem. on optimizing the Relaxin-2 peptide hormone in cardiovascular diseaseOur integrated drug discovery efforts on the Relaxin-2 peptide hormone, in collaboration with our collaborators at global life sciences company Sanofi, has produced a paper just published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
The natural peptide hormone human relaxin-2 has a complex heterodimeric insulin-like structure that makes its chemical synthesis tractability quite challenging.
The goal of our collaboration was to reduce the chemical complexity and optimize the hormone to a highly potent single B-chain Relaxin-2, with sustained duration of action and an improved half-life suitable for once daily administration.
The new class of RXFP1 agonists described in J.Med. Chem. paper have long-lasting properties that are compatible with once daily sub-cutaneous administration in patients. This approach opens the door to new treatments for chronic fibrosis and cardiovascular diseases.

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