From carbohydrates to drug-like fragments: Rational development of novel α-amylase inhibitors

Bioorg Med Chem. 2015 Oct 15;23(20):6725-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2015.09.007. Epub 2015 Sep 8.


Starch catabolism leading to high glucose level in blood is highly problematic in chronic metabolic diseases, such as type II diabetes and obesity. α-Amylase catalyzes the hydrolysis of starch, increasing blood sugar concentration. Its inhibition represents a promising therapeutic approach to control hyperglycaemia. However, only few drug-like molecule inhibitors without sugar moieties have been discovered so far, and little information on the enzymatic mechanism is available. This work aims at the discovery of novel small α-amylase binders using a systematic in silico methodology. 3D-pharmacophore-based high throughput virtual screening of small compounds libraries was performed to identify compounds with high α-amylase affinity. Twenty-seven compounds were selected and biologically tested, revealing IC50 values in the micromolar range and ligand efficiency higher than the one of the bound form of acarbose, which is used as a reference for α-amylase inhibition.

Keywords: Fragment-based drug design; Hyperglycaemia; Obesity; Pharmacophore model; Type II diabetes; Virtual screening; α-Amylase inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrates / chemistry
  • Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Discovery
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • alpha-Amylases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • alpha-Amylases / metabolism


  • Carbohydrates
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • alpha-Amylases