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Recent Developments in the Synthesis of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Ligands

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The extraordinary pharmacology of nicotine and epibatidine have indicated the potential for nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) ligands to serve as a new therapeutic class for a host of CNS disorders. Many such ligands are natural products, or analogs thereof, which represent a significant challenge to the synthetic chemist. Synthesis of such molecules often serves as a showcase to demonstrate the potential of newly developed methodology. This synthetic challenge coupled with the promise of pharmacological activity in compounds possessing the nicotinic pharmacophore has stimulated a great deal of synthetic activity over the last five years. The present report provides an overview of novel synthetic methodology occurring during this period directed toward the synthesis of compounds with presumed affinity for the neuronal nAChR. Syntheses chosen for review here represent the major efforts toward molecules such as epibatidine analogs, anatoxin-a, nicotine and related alkaloids, conformationally constrained nicotine derivatives, cytisine and methyllycaconitine (MLA).
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Keywords: Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor; alkaloids; methyllycaconitine (MLA); neuronal nAChR; pharmacophore

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Medicinal Chemistry, Targacept, Inc., 200 East First St., Suite 300, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, USA.

Publication date: 01 February 2004

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