Andrew Woodland, Stephen Thompson, Laura A. T. Cleghorn, Neil Norcross, Manu De Rycker, Raffaella Grimaldi, Irene Hallyburton, Bhavya Rao, Suzanne Norval, Laste Stojanovski, Reto Brun, Marcel Kaiser, Julie A. Frearson, David W. Gray, Paul G. Wyatt, Kevin D. Read, and Ian H. Gilbert
A screen of a focused kinase inhibitor library against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense led to the identification of seven series, totaling 121 compounds, which showed >50% inhibition at 5 uM. Screening of these hits in a T. b. brucei proliferation assay highlighted three compounds with a 1H-imidazo[4,5-b]pyrazin-2(3H)-one scaffold that showed sub-micromolar activity and excellent selectivity against the MRC5 cell line. Subsequent rounds of optimisation led to the identification of compounds that exhibited good in vitro drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) properties, although in general this series suffered from poor solubility. A scaffold-hopping exercise led to the identification of a 1H-pyrazolo[3,4-b]pyridine scaffold, which retained potency. A number of examples were assessed in a T. b. brucei growth assay, which could differentiate static and cidal action. Compounds from the 1H-imidazo[4,5-b]pyrazin-2(3H)-one series were found to be either static or growth-slowing and not cidal. Compounds with the 1H-pyrazolo[3,4-b]pyridine scaffold were found to be cidal and showed an unusual biphasic nature in this assay, suggesting they act by at least two mechanisms.