Classic Galactosemia is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by the deficiency of galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase (GALT), one of the key enzymes in the Leloir pathway of galactose metabolism. While the neonatal morbidity and mortality of the disease are now mostly prevented by newborn screening and galactose restriction, long-term outcome for older children and adults with this disorder remains unsatisfactory. The pathophysiology of Classic Galactosemia is complex, but there is convincing evidence that galactose-1-phosphate (gal-1P) accumulation is a major, if not the sole pathogenic factor. Galactokinase (GALK) inhibition will eliminate the accumulation of gal-1P from both dietary sources and endogenous production, and efforts toward identification of therapeutic small molecule GALK inhibitors are reviewed in detail. Experimental and computational high-throughput screenings of compound libraries to identify GALK inhibitors have been conducted, and subsequent studies aimed to characterize, prioritize, as well as to optimize the identified positives have been implemented to improve the potency of promising compounds. Although none of the identified GALK inhibitors inhibits glucokinase and hexokinase, some of them cross-inhibit other related enzymes in the GHMP small molecule kinase superfamily. While this finding may render the on-going hit-to-lead process more challenging, there is growing evidence that such cross-inhibition could also lead to advances in antimicrobial and anti-cancer therapies.
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