The urgent search for a medication to treat prion diseases has led scientists in Germany to synthesize a new group of compounds, including one that is 15 times more potent than an approved drug now being tested in clinical trials.
Their report is scheduled for the Nov. 2 issue of the biweekly ACS Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
Prions are infectious proteins that cause brain disorders like Mad Cow Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans. Peter Gmeiner and colleagues note that the recent emergence of a new form of CDJ, linked to consumption of infected beef mainly in Great Britain, intensified the search for anti-prion compounds.
Most potential drugs have proved ineffective, often because they could not enter brain tissue where prions reside. One promising drug, however, is in clinical trials. That drug is quinacrine, already approved for several other medical conditions.
Gmeiner's group describes the chemical synthesis and early laboratory testing of a family of anti-prion compounds that cross into brain tissue and combat prions. One of those compounds has what the report describes as "unprecedented" anti-prion activity, with 15 times greater potency than quinacrine.