Discovery and In Vivo Evaluation of ACT-660602: A Potent and Selective Antagonist of the Chemokine Receptor CXCR3 for Autoimmune Diseases
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: The chemokine receptor CXCR3 is a seven-trans-membrane G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) involved in various pathologies, in particular autoimmune diseases. It is activated by the three chemokine ligands CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 and enables the recruitment of immune cell subsets leading to damage of inflamed tissues. Starting from a high-throughput screening hit, we describe the iterative optimization of a chemical series culminating in the discovery of the selective CXCR3 antagonist ACT-660602 (9j). The careful structural modifications during the lead optimization phase led to a compound with high biological potency in inhibiting cell migration together with improvements of the metabolic stability and hERG issue. In a LPS-induced lung inflammation model in mice, ACT-660602 led to significantly reduced recruitment of the CXCR3 + CD8 + T cell in the bronchoalveolar lavage compartment when administered orally at a dose of 30 mg/kg.