Two complementary stereospecific synthetic approaches for the preparation of unsymmetrical ortho-substituted N-(4,4-diphenylbut-3-enyl) derivatives of nipecotic acid are described. Determination of the activity of the prepared compounds at the GAT-1 transporter highlighted differing SAR requirements of the E- and Z-phenyl rings, and led to the discovery of a compound with comparable potency to tiagabine. Some attempts to replace nipecotic acid with alternative novel amino acids are also described.
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