The search for inhibitors of the Janus kinase family (JAK1, JAK2, JAK3 and TYK2) has been ongoing for several decades and has resulted in a number of JAK inhibitors being approved for use in patients, such as tofacitinib for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although initially thought to be a JAK3 selective inhibitor, tofacitinib was subsequently found to possess significant activity to inhibit JAK1 and JAK2 which has contributed to some adverse side effects. A selective JAK3 inhibitor should only have an effect within the immune system since JAK3 is solely expressed in lymphoid tissue; this makes JAK3 a target of interest in the search for treatments of autoimmune diseases. A method to obtain selectivity for JAK3 over the other JAK family members, which has attracted more scientific attention recently, is the targeting of the active site cysteine residue, unique in JAK3 within the JAK family, with compounds containing electrophilic warheads which can form a covalent bond with the nucleophilic thiol of the cysteine residue. This review encompasses the historical search for a covalent JAK3 inhibitor and the most recently published research which hasn’t been reviewed to date. The most important compounds from the publications reviewed, the activity and selectivity of these compounds together with some of the more important biological results are condensed in to an easily digested form that should prove useful for those interested in the field.
Keywords: Janus kinase, JAK3, covalent, selective, inhibitor, auto-immune disease
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