This review explains why the chaperone Hsp90 is an exciting protein target for the discovery of new drugs to treat cancer in the clinic, and summarises the properties of natural product derived inhibitors before relating the discovery and current state of development of synthetic pyrazole compounds. Blockade of Hsp90 results in reduced cellular levels of several proteins implicated in cancer including CDK4, ERBB2 and C-RAF, and causes simultaneous inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in culture and of tumor xenograft growth in vivo. Hsp90 has an ATPase domain that is necessary for its Hsp chaperone function, and X-ray crystallography has shown that natural product inhibitors (geldanamycin, radicicol) of Hsp90 function bind to this domain. High throughput assays focusing on the ATPase activity of Hsp90 were developed and used to discover novel chemical starting points for cancer drug discovery. The discovery, synthesis and SAR of 3,4- diaryl pyrazoles is described. X-Ray crystallography of protein-inhibitor complexes revealed important interactions involving the resorcinol substituent at C-3, and these X-ray structures strongly influenced subsequent medicinal chemistry research that has resulted in highly potent inhibitors with sub-micromolar activity in cells. SAR and X-ray data are summarised for analogues in which the 4-phenyl substituent is replaced by amides or piperazine derivatives. Prospects for the pyrazoles as they progress towards clinical development are discussed in relation to current Phase I trials with derivatives of geldanamycin.
Keywords: cyclin-dependent kinase 4, geldanamycin, ATP-binding domain, pyrazole scaffold, Structure-activity relationship, Time-resolved fluorescence resonance
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