Heteroaromatic inhibitors of the Astacin proteinases Meprin a, Meprin v and Ovastacin discovered by a scaffold‐hopping approach
Astacin metalloproteinases, in particular meprins a and v, as well as ovastacin, are emerging drug targets. Drug‐discovery efforts have led to the development of the first potent and selective inhibitors in the last few years. However, the most recent compounds are based on a highly flexible tertiary amine scaffold that could cause metabolic liabilities or decreased potency due to the entropic penalty upon binding to the target. Thus, the aim of this study was to discover novel conformationally constrained scaffolds as starting points for further inhibitor optimization. Shifting from flexible tertiary amines to rigid heteroaromatic cores resulted in a boost in inhibitory activity. Moreover, some compounds already exhibited higher activity against individual astacin proteinases compared to recently reported inhibitors and also a favorable off‐target selectivity profile, thus qualifying them as very suitable chemical probes for target validation.