Inhibition of O-GlcNAcase (OGA) has emerged as a promising therapeutic approach to treat tau pathology in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy. Beginning with carbohydrate-based lead molecules, we pursued an optimization strategy of reducing polar surface area to align the desired drug-like properties of potency, selectivity, high central nervous system (CNS) exposure, metabolic stability, favorable pharmacokinetics, and robust in vivo pharmacodynamic response. Herein, we describe the medicinal chemistry and pharmacological studies that led to the identification of (3aR,5S,6S,7R,7aR)-5-(difluoromethyl)-2-(ethylamino)-3a,6,7,7a-tetrahydro-5H-pyrano[3,2-d]thiazole-6,7-diol 42 (MK-8719), a highly potent and selective OGA inhibitor with excellent CNS penetration that has been advanced to first-in-human Phase I clinical trials.

Source: Selnick et al. J Med Chem (2019).