Current Medicinal Chemistry (v.23, #5)

Meet Our Section Editor: by Ling Peng (407-407).

Nanomaterials can get into the blood circulation after injection or by release from implants but also by permeation of the epithelium after oral, respiratory or dermal exposure. Once in the blood, they can affect hemostasis, which is usually not intended. This review addresses effects of biological particles and engineered nanomaterials on hemostasis. The role of platelets and coagulation in normal clotting and the interaction with the immune system are described. Methods to identify effects of nanomaterials on clotting and results from in vitro and in vivo studies are summarized and the role of particle size and surface properties discussed. The literature overview showed that mainly pro-coagulative effects of nanomaterials have been described. In vitro studies suggested stronger effects of smaller than of larger NPs on coagulation and a greater importance of material than of surface charge. For instance, carbon nanotubes, polystyrene particles, and dendrimers inferred with clotting independent from their surface charge. Coating of particles with polyethylene glycol was able to prevent interaction with clotting by some particles, while it had no effect on others and the more recently developed bio-inspired surfaces might help to design coatings for more biocompatible particles. The mainly pro-coagulative action of nanoparticles could present a particular risk for individuals affected by common diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Under standardized conditions, in vitro assays using human blood appear to be a suitable tool to study mechanisms of interference with hemostasis and to optimize hemocompatibility of nanomaterials.

Essential Roles of Toll-Like Receptors in Atherosclerosis by Juntang Lin, Vijay Kakkar, Xinjie Lu (431-454).
Atherosclerosis is driven by inflammation with an involvement of innate and adaptive immune responses. Toll-like receptors, the well-defined pattern recognition receptors of the immune system, play a central role in macrophage activation. Toll-like receptors recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns expressed by a wide range of infectious agents and provide a strong link between local innate and adaptive immunity. Activation of these receptors triggers an intracellular signaling cascade mediated through myeloid differentiation factor 88 or toll/interleukin-1 receptor-domain-containing adapter-inducing interferon-β;, leading to the secretion of proand anti-inflammatory cytokines. Engagement of Toll-like receptors with their ligands induces leukocyte recruitment and enhances matrix metalloproteinase expression within atherosclerotic lesions. Recently certain Toll-like receptors have shown a protective role in atherosclerosis. TLRs, therefore, represent an important link between inflammation and atheroma, making them attractive targets for the treatment of atherosclerosis. This review will briefly describe the general biological structure and potential roles of Toll-like receptors as therapeutic targets for the treatment of atherosclerosis and highlight the potential challenges on Toll-like receptor- based therapy in cardiovascular disease.

Application of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Melanoma: A Potential Therapeutic Strategy for Delivery of Targeted Agents by Hamed Mirzaei, Amirhossein Sahebkar, Amir Avan, Mahmoud R. Jaafari, Rasoul Salehi, Hossein Salehi, Hossein Baharvand, Abbas Rezaei, Jamshid Hadjati, John M. Pawelek, Hamid R. Mirzaei (455-463).
Melanoma is a leading cause of mortality from skin cancer and has a poor prognosis. Despite rapid advances in the treatment of this tumor type, the efficacy of current chemo-/targeted-therapies is still limited owing to the lack of sufficient drug accumulation in the tumor tissue and development of chemo-resistance. Recently, the application of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in cancer therapy has gained substantial attention, suggesting their potential roles as an intriguing vehicle in improving the delivery of targeted agents. MSCs are genetically modified with suicide tumor suppressor genes to inhibit cell signaling pathways associated with the progression and metastatic features of melanoma. Here we describe the clinical application of MSCs in melanoma with a particular emphasis on recent findings on the role of MSC expressing a distinct set of biologically functional chemokines and tumor suppressing agents. Accumulating data has shown the tumor- oriented homing capacity of MSCs and their applications as a vehicle (e.g., adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells expressing TRAIL, interferon-?/?, pigment epithelium-derived factor and cytosine deaminase). Several questions regarding possible potential and intrinsic mechanisms that might induce tumorigenesis and drug resistance are yet to be addressed for tailoring MSC-nbased treatment of melanoma.

Expanding antibiotic use in clinical practice and emergence of bacterial resistance are fueling research efforts for the development of novel antibacterials. Underexploited or completely novel mechanistic approaches and biological targets are of especial interest. Undecaprenyl pyrophosphate synthase (UppS) is an essential enzyme in the biosynthesis of the bacterial cell wall. Although UppS is a validated target, no selective inhibitors occur in materia medica. Nevertheless, several native substrate analogues have been reported and used in enzyme kinetics studies or as pharmacological probes. The majority of small-molecule UppS inhibitors belong to the well-known class of bisphosphonates that are primarily used for treatment of bone resorption disorders. The most potent compound of this class has an IC50 of 0.59 µ;M. Inherently, the selectivity and suitability of such compounds for antimicrobial drug design can be questioned. Therefore, highthroughput and virtual screenings for non-bisphosphonate inhibitors were performed, and nanomolar inhibitors of UppS were identified, some with antimicrobial activities towards clinically relevant strains. The reported scaffolds belong to tetramic and tetronic acids with IC50 in the 100-nM range, and to dihydropyridines with IC50 down to 40 nM, all with antibacterial activity. Aryl-diketo acids are also potent inhibitors with MRSA antimicrobial activity, with the allosteric inhibitor methylisoxazole-4-carboxamide (IC50, 50 nM) active on several pathogenic Streptococcus pneumoniae strains. Clomiphene is a well-known oestrogen receptor modulator, and it has been reported to inhibit UppS. Although conclusions on the structure activity relationships cannot be drawn from all these data, these compound series represent an important contribution to the field of antibiotics.

Newly Emerging Theranostic Agents for Simultaneous Cancertargeted Imaging and Therapy by Shenglin Luo, Xiaochao Yang, Chunmeng Shi (483-497).
The development of multifunctional theranostic agents has become an intriguing venture for personalized oncology, because they can integrate tumor diagnosis and therapy. One approach explored to obtain such multifunctional theranostic agents is through the chemical conjugation of anticancer drugs and contrast agents with various cancer-targeted ligands. The other approach is based on the nanoplatform, in which cancer-targeted nanostructures achieve simultaneous cancer specific detection and therapeutics either by EPR effect or by conjugation of target ligands. Interestingly, a newly emerging strategy from multifunctional small molecules to develop cancertargeted theranostic agents has been reported recently. In consideration of the urgent need and rapid development of theranostic agents in cancer therapy, herein we review the currently adopted and newly emerging approaches for their preparation, and highlight the promises and challenges in each approach, hoping to offer useful insights in developing more specific and efficient cancer theranostic agents suitable for clinical use.

The anti-cancer properties of liquorice have been attributed, at least in part, to glycyrrhizin (GL). However, GL is not directly absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. It is hydrolyzed to 18-β;-glycyrrhetinic acid (GA), the pharmacologically active metabolite, by human intestinal microflora. GA exhibits remarkable cytotoxic and anti-tumor properties. The pro-apoptotic targets and mechanisms of action of GA have been extensively studied over the past decade. In addition, GA is an inexpensive and available triterpene with functional groups (COOH and OH) in its structure, which make it an attractive lead compound for medicinal chemists to prepare a large number of analogues. To date, more than 400 cytotoxic derivatives have been prepared on the basis of GA scaffold, including 128 cytotoxic derivatives with IC50 values less than 30 µ;M. Researchers have also succeeded in synthesizing very potent cytotoxic derivatives with IC50s ? 1 µ;M. Studies have shown that the introduction of a double bound at the C1-C2 position combined with an electronegative functional group, such as CN, CF3 or iodine at C2 position, and the oxidation of the hydroxyl group of C3 to the carbonyl group, significantly increased cytotoxicity. This review describes the cytotoxic and anti-tumor properties of GA and its derivatives, targets and mechanisms of action and provides insight into the structure-activity relationship of GA derivatives.