The p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase is an integral enzyme involved in the production of a wide variety of pro-inflammatory cytokines from various cell types. The identification of this kinase and of the diaryl imidazole containing inhibitor, SB203580, initiated an intense discovery effort in this field. Numerous inhibitors were subsequently produced containing replacements for the imidazole, as well as some of the pharmacophores attached to it. During this time many other classes of potent p38 inhibitors emerged containing scaffolds and binding components not found in the diaryl imidazole group. This review summarizes nine of those classes. At least one of these classes requires the kinase to undergo reorganization prior to binding. From this diverse set of inhibitors four compounds have been reported advancing into human clinical trials.
Keywords: kinase inhibition, anti-cancer agents, purine-derived compounds, cell cycle, solid phase synthesis, biological activity
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