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Thiol-Dependent Enzymes and Their Inhibitors: A Review

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Biological thiol-dependent enzymes have recently received extensive attention in the literature because of their involvement in a variety of physiopathological conditions. The active thiol groups of these enzymes are derived from the cysteine residues present. Hence, in a biological system, the selective reversible or irreversible inhibition of the activity of these enzymes by modification of the thiol moiety may potentially lead to the development of a chemotherapeutic treatment.

Despite all the research efforts involved in the attempt to develop potential chemotherapeutic treatments for the major diseases involving cysteine proteases, there are in fact no such treatments available yet. However, AG7088 (1) an inhibitor of rhinovirus-3C is in phase II / III clinical trial for the treatment of common cold and VX-740 (2, pralnacasan) an inhibitor of caspase-1 is in phase II clinical trial as an anti-inflammatory agent for rheumatoid arthritis. Several other cysteine protease inhibitors (i.e., cathepsin K, and S) are in pre-clinical evaluation or preclinical development. Structure-based drug design approaches have been instrumental in the development of these inhibitors.

Intensive biochemical studies on the cysteine proteases have shed some light on some potential targets for therapeutic development. In addition, new techniques and new ideas are constantly emerging. As such, an up-to-date review of the literature on thiol-dependent enzymes as potential targets and their inhibitors designed from peptidic, modified peptidomimetic scaffolds and from small heterocyclic molecules is presented.
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Keywords: calpain; caspase; cathepsins; cruzain; cysteine proteases; falcipain; inhibitors; rhinovirus-3c; thiol-dependent enzymes

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2002-05-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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