The need for alternative cognitive enhancers has risen due to the fact that clinical trial results of the drugs currently approved for treating these disorders have not been satisfactory.
IRAP has become a possible drug target for treating cognitive impairment brought about by Alzheimer’s disease, head trauma or cerebral ischemia, among others. This came after the revelation that Angiotensin IV enhances memory and learning. Angiotensin IV, the endogenous ligand of IRAP has been structurally modified with the aim of producing potent IRAP inhibitors. However, the peptidic nature of these inhibitors restricts their use; they are not likely to cross the blood brain barrier.
Other strategies for generating IRAP inhibitors have been through structure-based design and receptor based virtual screening. These drug-like molecules have exhibited positive results in animal studies.
IRAP inhibitors have been identified via a HTS of 10500 low-molecular weight compounds to give the hit based on a spirooxindole dihydroquinazolinone scaffold, with an IC50 value of 1.5 µM. In this project, some analogues to this hit compound have successfully been synthesized using a known method, whereas others have been synthesized after additional method development.
The application of the developed method was found to be limited, because poor yield was obtained when a compound with an electron withdrawing substituent on the aniline was synthesized. As a result of this, modification of this method may be required or new methods may have to be developed to synthesize these types of analogues.
Inhibition capability of 5 new spirooxindole dihydroquinazolinones was tested through a biochemical assay. Compound 6e emerged as the most potent inhibitor in the series, with an IC50 value of 0.2 µM. This compound will now serve as a lead compound and should be used as a starting point for future optimization in order to generate more potent IRAP inhibitors.