The association of two pharmacophoric entities generates so-called 'twin drugs' or dimer derivatives. We applied this approach for the design of a small compound library for the interaction with α4β2(∗) nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). In this compound series, the nAChR ligand N,N-dimethyl-2-(pyridin-3-yloxy)ethan-1-amine 9 served as one pharmacological entity and it was initially kept constant as one part of the 'twin' compound. 'Twin' compounds with identical or non-identical entities using the 'no linker mode' or 'overlap' mode were synthesized and evaluated for their nAChR affinities. Compound 17a showed the highest affinity for the α4β2(∗) nAChR subtype (Ki=0.188 nM) and its (di)fluoro analogs could retain nanomolar affinities, when replacing pyridine as the hydrogen bond acceptor system by mono- or difluoro-phenyls. The 'twin drug' approach proved to provide compounds with high affinity and subtype selectivity for α4β2(∗) nAChRs.
Keywords: 3D QSAR pharmacophore; Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; Structure–activity relationship; Twin drugs; nAChR.
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