A library of 1,3-disubstituted 2-propanols was synthesized and evaluated as low molecular weight probes for β-secretase inhibition. By screening a library of 121 1,3-disubstituted 2-propanol derivatives, we identified few compounds inhibiting the enzyme at low micromolar concentrations. The initial hits were optimized to yield a potent BACE-1 inhibitor exhibiting an IC(50) constant in the nanomolar range. Exploration of the pharmacological properties revealed that these small molecular inhibitors possessed a high selectivity over cathepsin D and desirable physicochemical properties beneficial to cross the blood-brain barrier.
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