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A quantitative way to estimate clinical off-target effects for human membrane brain targets in CNS research and development

Authors Spiros A, Geerts H

Received 12 February 2012

Accepted for publication 13 March 2012

Published 1 May 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 53—61


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Athan Spiros1, Hugo Geerts1,2
1In Silico Biosciences, Berwyn, PA, USA; 2School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Abstract: Although many preclinical programs in central nervous system research and development intend to develop highly selective and potent molecules directed at the primary target, they often act upon other off-target receptors. The simple rule of taking the ratios of affinities for the candidate drug at the different receptors is flawed since the affinity of the endogenous ligand for that off-target receptor or drug exposure is not taken into account. We have developed a mathematical receptor competition model that takes into account the competition between active drug moiety and the endogenous neurotransmitter to better assess the off-target effects on postsynaptic receptor activation under the correct target exposure conditions. As an example, we investigate the possible functional effects of the weak off-target effects for dopamine-1 receptor (D1R) in a computer simulation of a dopaminergic cortical synapse that is calibrated using published fast-cyclic rodent voltammetry and human imaging data in subjects with different catechol-O-methyltransferase genotypes. We identify the conditions under which off-target effects at the D1R can lead to clinically detectable consequences on cognitive tests, such as the N-back working memory test. We also demonstrate that certain concentrations of dimebolin (Dimebon), a recently tested Alzheimer drug, can affect D1R activation resulting in clinically detectable cognitive decrease. This approach can be extended to other receptor systems and can improve the selection of clinical candidate compounds by potentially dialing-out harmful off-target effects or dialing-in beneficial off-target effects in a quantitative and controlled way.

Keywords: off-target pharmacology, working memory, dopamine, COMT

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