The pathophysiological roles of caspases have made them attractive targets in the treatment and amelioration of neurologic diseases. In normal conditions, the expression of caspases is regulated in the brain, while at the onset of neurodegeneration, such as in Alzheimer’s disease, they are typically overexpressed. Till date, several therapeutic efforts that include the use of small endogenous binders have been put forward to curtail dysfunctionalities that drive aberrant death in neuronal cells. Caspases are highly homologous, both in structure and in sequence, which leaves us with the question: is it possible to specifically and individually target caspases, while multiple therapeutic attempts to achieve selective targeting have failed! Based on antecedent events, the use of Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD) methods has significantly contributed to the design of small molecule inhibitors, especially with selective target ability and reduced off-target therapeutic effects. Interestingly, we found out that there still exists an enormous room for the integration of structure/ligand-based drug design techniques towards the development of highly specific reversible and irreversible caspase inhibitors. Therefore, in this review, we highlight drug discovery approaches that have been directed towards caspase inhibition in addition to an insightful focus on applicable CADD techniques for achieving selective targeting in caspase research.
Keywords: Apoptosis, caspase, caspase activation, recruitment domain, death effector domain, caspase inhibitors, covalent docking, computer-aided drug design.
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