Chiara Brullo

Università degli Studi di Genova, Genova, Liguria, Italy

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Publications (53)170.66 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hematopoietic cell kinase (Hck) is a member of the Src-family of non-receptor tyrosine kinases, which plays many roles in signalling pathways involved in the regulation of cell processes. Hck is expressed in cells of hematopoietic origin, specifically myelomonocytic cells and B lymphocytes. It participates in phagocytosis, adhesion, migration, regulation of protrusion formation on cell membrane, lysosome exocytosis, podosome formation and actin polymerization. More importantly from a medicinal chemistry point of view, high levels of Hck are involved in chronic myeloid leukemia and other hematologic tumors. Furthermore, Hck activity has been associated with virus infections including HIV-1. In particular, Hck is activated by the HIV-1 accessory protein Nef, a multifunctional HIV-1 protein that accelerates progression to AIDS and enhances the infectivity of progeny viruses. Nef binding to Hck leads to kinase activation which is important in AIDS pathogenesis. For these reasons, Hck represents a potentially good therapeutic target for the treatment of both specific cancers and HIV infection. This article summarizes Hck biological activities connected with malignancies and HIV infection, many of which have been only recently reported, and presents an overview of the compounds endowed with Hck inhibitory activity, especially focusing on the medicinal chemistry aspect.
    Current medicinal chemistry. 02/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Breakpoint cluster region Abelson (Bcr-Abl) tyrosine kinase (TK) is a constitutively activated cytoplasmic TK and is the underlying cause of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). To date, imatinib represents the frontline treatment for CML therapy. The development of resistance has prompted the search for novel Bcr-Abl inhibitors. Areas covered: This review presents a short overview of drugs already approved for CML therapy and of the compounds that are in clinical trials. The body of the article deals with Bcr-Abl inhibitors patented since 2008, focusing on their chemical features. Expert opinion: The search for Bcr-Abl inhibitors is very active. We believe that a number of patented compounds could enter clinical trials and some could be approved for CML therapy in the next few years. Overall, Bcr-Abl inhibitors constitute a very appealing research field that can be expected to expand further.
    Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patents 02/2015; · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: c-Src is a tyrosine kinase belonging to the Src-family kinases. It is overexpressed and/or hyperactivated in a variety of cancer cells, thus its inhibition has been predicted to have therapeutic effects in solid tumors. Recently, the pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine 3 was reported as a dual c-Src/Abl inhibitor. Herein we describe a multidisciplinary drug discovery approach for the optimization of the lead 3 against c-Src. Starting from the X-ray crystal structure of c-Src in complex with 3, Monte Carlo free energy perturbation calculations were applied to guide the design of c-Src inhibitors with improved activities. As a result, the introduction of a meta hydroxyl group on the C4 anilino ring was computed to be particularly favorable. The potency of the synthesized inhibitors was increased with respect to the starting lead 3. The best identified compounds were also found active in the inhibition of neuroblastoma cell proliferation. Furthermore, compound 29 also showed in vivo activity in xenograft model using SH-SY5Y cells.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 12/2014; · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A new series of 3-(cyclopentyloxy)-4-methoxyphenyl derivatives, structurally related to our hit GEBR-4a (1) and GEBR-7b (2), has been designed by changing length and functionality of the chain linking the catecholic moiety to the terminal cycloamine portion. Among the numerous molecules synthesized, compounds 8, 10a, and 10b showed increased potency as PDE4D enzyme inhibitors with respect to 2 and a good selectivity against PDE4A4, PDE4B2, and PDE4C2 enzymes, without both cytotoxic and genotoxic effects. The ability to enhance cAMP level in neuronal cells was assessed for compound 8. SAR considerations, also confirmed by in silico docking simulations, evidenced that both chain and amino terminal function characterized by higher hydrophilicity are required for a good and selective inhibitor-catalytic pocket interaction.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 08/2014; · 5.48 Impact Factor
  • ChemInform 05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLF), its methyl ester fMLF-OMe and interleukin 8 (IL8) play a pivotal role in neutrophil chemotaxis regulation in the latter and early stages, respectively, but the mechanisms through which the signal transduction pathways activate this function are not yet completely understood. Compounds 3l and 3r, a new class of arylcarbamoyl-imidazo-pyrazoles derivatives, were described as the first example of compounds able to inhibit human neutrophil chemotaxis induced by both fMLF-OMe and IL8. Here, we report their effects on superoxide production and lysozyme release. No inhibition was observed, thus they could be defined as "pure" chemotactic antagonists. Therefore, such molecules were used to highlight specific kinases involved in neutrophil chemotaxis. Our data provide support that compounds 3l and 3r strongly inhibit p38 MAPK with either fMLF-OMe or IL8 chemoattractants, while they show different signaling pathways regarding PKC isoforms suggesting that a fine tuning of the neutrophil activation occurs through differences in the activation of signaling pathways. Neither fMLF-OMe nor IL8 were able to obtain activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway. Since anomalous activation of neutrophil recruitment is one of the causes of many inflammatory diseases, the good versatility of our derivatives could represent the most important characteristic of these new molecules in the development of novel therapeutics.
    European journal of pharmacology 08/2013; · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hematopoietic cell kinase (Hck) is a member of the Src family of non-receptor protein tyrosine kinases. High levels of Hck are associated with drug resistance in chronic myeloid leukemia. Furthermore, Hck activity has been connected with HIV-1. Herein, structure-based drug design efforts were aimed at identifying novel Hck inhibitors. First, an in-house library of pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine derivatives, which were previously shown to be dual Abl and c-Src inhibitors, was analyzed by docking studies within the ATP binding site of Hck to select the best candidates to be tested in a cell-free assay. Next, the same computational protocol was applied to screen a database of commercially available compounds. As a result, most of the selected compounds were found active against Hck, with Ki values ranging from 0.14 to 18.4 μM, confirming the suitability of the computational approach adopted. Furthermore, selected compounds showed an interesting antiproliferative activity profile against the human leukemia cell line KU-812, and one compound was found to block HIV-1 replication at sub-toxic concentrations.
    ChemMedChem 06/2013; · 3.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Starting from our in-house library of pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidines, cross-docking simulation was conducted on Bcr-Abl T315I mutant to select new derivatives for biological investigations. Among the selected compounds (2a-e), derivative 2b showed a high activity against the Bcr-Abl T315I mutant (Ki = 36 nM). Binding free energy calculation (MM-GBSA), molecular interaction field (MIF) analysis and free energy perturbation (FEP) studies highlighted the importance of a bromine atom of the para position of the N1 side chain phenyl ring for the interaction with the hydrophobic region I in the T315I mutant. A series of 4-bromo derivatives was thus synthesized and biologically evaluated in cell-free assays (c-Src, Abl wt, Abl T315I mutant) and in the murine myeloid 32D cell lines expressing the human wild type p210-Bcr-Abl or the Bcr-Abl T315I mutant. Compound 2j was identified as the most promising derivative showing a good balance of different ADME properties, high activity in cell-free assays and an interesting sub-micromolar potency against T315I Bcr-Abl expressing cells. In addition, liposome encapsulated 2j was tested on 32D-p210 and 32D-T315I cell lines at concentrations of 0.1 and 1 μM in comparison with the DMSO dissolved 2j. Liposomal formulation increases the solubility of pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidines preserving a good activity on leukemic T315I cells and avoiding the use of DMSO as solubilizing agent. In vivo studies on mice inoculated with 32D-T315I cells and treated for 17 days with 2j showed a more than 50% reduction in tumor volumes when compared to placebo treated mice.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 06/2013; · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pim-1 is a serine/threonine kinase critically involved in the initiation and progression of various types of cancer, especially leukemia, lymphomas and solid tumors such as prostate, pancreas and colon, and is considered a potential drug target against these malignancies. In an effort to discover new potent Pim-1 inhibitors, a previously identified ATP-competitive indolyl-pyrrolone scaffold was expanded to derive structure-activity relationship data. A virtual screening campaign was also performed, which led to the discovery of additional ATP-competitive inhibitors as well as a series of 2-aminothiazole derivatives, which are noncompetitive with respect to both ATP and peptide substrate. This mechanism of action, which resembles allosteric inhibition, has not previously been characterized for Pim-1. Notably, further evaluation of the 2-aminothiazoles indicated a synergistic inhibitory effect in enzymatic assays when tested in combination with ATP-competitive inhibitors. A synergistic effect in the inhibition of cell proliferation by ATP-competitive and ATP-noncompetitive compounds was also observed in prostate cancer cell lines (PC3), where all Pim-1 inhibitors tested in showed synergism with the known anticancer agent, paclitaxel. These results further establish Pim-1 as a target in cancer therapy, and highlight the potential of these agents for use as adjuvant agents in the treatment of cancer diseases in which Pim-1 is associated with chemotherapeutic resistance.
    ChemMedChem 03/2013; 8(3):484-96. · 3.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The recent launch onto the market of five VEGFR inhibitors indicates the therapeutic value of these agents and the importance of the research in the field of angiogenesis inhibitors for future oncologic therapy. In this perspective we briefly report the inhibitors which are in clinical use, while we dedicate two wider sections to the compounds which are in clinical trials and to the new derivatives appearing in the literature. We especially consider the medicinal chemistry aspect of the topic, report the structure-activity relationship studies and the binding mode of some inhibitors as well as the biological data of the compounds discovered in the past five years.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 10/2012; · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: c-Src and Bcr-Abl are two cytoplasmatic tyrosine kinases (TKs) involved in the development of malignancies. In particular, Bcr-Abl is the etiologic agent of chronic myeloid leukemia, where Src is also involved; the latter is hyperactivated in several solid tumors. Because of the structural homology between Src and Abl, several compounds originally synthesized as Src inhibitors have also been shown to be Abl inhibitors, useful in overcoming the onset of some types of chronic myeloid leukemia resistances, which frequently appear in the advanced phases of pathology. In recent years, the development of such compounds has been promoted by both excellent preclinical and clinical results, and by the theory that dual or multi-targeted inhibitors might be more effective than selective inhibitors. This review is an update on the most important dual inhibitors already in clinical trials and includes information regarding compounds that have appeared in the literature in recent years.
    Future medicinal chemistry 04/2012; 4(6):799-822. · 4.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Keywords: N-Aryl-2-phenyl-2,3-dihydro-imidazo[1,2-b]pyrazole-1-carboxamides IL8 fMLP-OMe Chemotaxis Human neutrophils Inflammation a b s t r a c t Anomalous activation of neutrophil recruitment is one of the causes of many inflammatory diseases. The chemoattractants N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP), and interleukine 8 (IL8) play a pivotal role in neutrophil chemotaxis regulation in the latter and early stages, respectively, probably by two independent mechanisms. We reported here synthesis and biological evaluation of new N-aryl-2-phenyl-2,3-dihydro-imidazo[1,2-b]pyrazole-1-carboxamides 7-substituted which were designed as possible multi-target antiinflammatory agents. Many of the title compounds showed a good inhibition, in the nano molar range, of human neutrophil chemotaxis selectively acting toward fMLP-OMe (methyl-ester of fMLP) or IL8 stimulus; whereas, two compounds showed an interesting dual activity inhibiting both fMLP-OMe and IL8-induced chemotaxis at nano molar concentration.
    European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 12/2011; 47:573-579. · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In pursuing our research on some 2,4-diamino-benzopyranopyrimidines and 2-amino-5,6-dihydrobenzo[h]quinazolines, previously reported as antiplatelet and analgesic/anti-inflammatory agents respectively, we designed and synthesized a new series of 5,6-dihydrobenzo[h]quinazoline 2,4-diamino substituted. The insertion of amino substituents at positions 2 and 4 of the benzoquinazoline scaffold resulted in compounds endowed with a potent ASA-like antiplatelet activity, combined with an anti-inflammatory activity comparable, in some cases, to that of indomethacin, used as a reference drug.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 12/2011; 22(2):1125-9. · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The cytoplasmatic tyrosine in kinase c-Src is involved in the regulation of several cell functions including adhesion, invasion, proliferation, survival and angiogenesis. Src activity is strictly regulated in healthy cells, whereas its overexpression or hyperactivation plays a critical role during tumor development. Recently it has been suggested that the oncogenic potential of Src is linked to its role in the activation of key signalling molecules involved in several cell pathways, rather than its direct activity. For all these reasons Src represents a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of tumors. In this article a number of examples of c-Src inhibitors appeared in selected patents from 2006 to early 2011 will be reported, focusing on their chemical features and, whenever possible, on structure- activity relationships and mechanism of action. Examples of type I or II ATP-competitive inhibitors or substrate competitive inhibitors will be presented. The research in this field is very active and will probably lead to the discovery of therapeutically useful compounds, both c-Src selective and multitargeted inhibitors, that acting on different cell pathways could be more effective in blocking cancer development. However, only the results of clinical trials will show in the near future the most promising compounds.
    Current Medicinal Chemistry 10/2011; 18(33):5061-78. · 3.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma (NB) represents the most common extracranial paediatric solid tumor for which no specific FDA-approved treatment is currently available. The tyrosine kinase c-Src has been reported to play an important role in the differentiation, cell-adhesion and survival of NB cells. Starting from dual Src/Abl inhibitors previously found active in NB cell lines (1-3), small modification of the original structures almost abolished the Abl activity with a contemporary improvement of affinity and specificity for c-Src. Among the synthesized compounds, the most potent c-Src inhibitor (10a) showed a very interesting antiproliferative activity in SH-SY5Y cells with an IC(50) of 80 nM and a favourable ADME profile. A 3D SAR analysis was also attempted and may guide the design of more potent c-Src inhibitors as potential agents for NB treatment.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 07/2011; 21(19):5928-33. · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) is a serine-threonine kinase belonging to the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling pathway that is involved in several cell functions, including growth, proliferation, apoptosis and autophagy. mTOR hyperactivation has been detected in several human cancers, thus representing, together with its upstream effectors, an important target for cancer therapy. mTOR exists in two different complexes in cells, mTORC1 and mTORC2 which could both be targeted by potential anticancer agents. Rapamycin, the selective and allosteric inhibitor of mTOR, inhibits the enzyme in mTORC1, but not in mTORC2. In the last few years a number of mTOR ATP-competitive inhibitors has been reported acting on mTOR in both complexes and possessing a more complete anticancer activity in comparison with that of rapamycin and its derivatives. mTOR shares high sequence homology in the hinge-region with PI3K that is a lipid kinase upstream to mTOR in the same signaling pathway; for this reason some compounds originally developed as PI3K inhibitors later showed to also target mTOR. As indicated by preclinical and clinical studies, compounds acting on more than one target could result in a better biological response and in enhanced therapeutic potential and also dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors result of great interest as potential antitumor agents. This review mainly reports the recently discovered mTOR ATP-competitive inhibitors in terms of medicinal chemistry, classified by their chemical structures, focusing on SAR and modelling studies that led to the discovery of very potent and selective agents, such as AZD-8055, OSI-027 and INK128, already entered clinical trials, or WYE-132, Torin1 and others in preclinical studies. Also some examples of dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors, including PI-103, GNE477, WJD008 and GSK2126458 are reported together with their biological and clinical data.
    Current Medicinal Chemistry 06/2011; 18(20):2995-3014. · 3.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fyn is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase belonging to the Src family kinases. It has been shown to play important roles in neuronal functions, including myelination and oligodendrocytes formation, and in inflammatory processes. It has also demonstrated its involvement in signaling pathways that lead to severe brain pathologies, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Moreover, Fyn is upregulated in some malignancies. Experimental studies demonstrated that Fyn inhibition could be useful in the disruption of metabolic processes involved in cancer neurodegenerative diseases. Unfortunately, no specific Fyn inhibitor has been discovered till today, active compounds on other members of Src family or on different tyrosine kinases have also been reported. However, multitargeted inhibitors might be endowed with therapeutic potential. Indeed, as increasingly reported, also a not completely selective inhibitor of a specific protein could be therapeutically useful, affecting a number of cell pathways involved especially in cancer development. In this review, we report some examples of small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors for which data on Fyn inhibition, both in enzymatic and in cell assays, have been reported, with the aim of giving information as starting point for the researchers working in this field.
    Current Medicinal Chemistry 06/2011; 18(19):2921-42. · 3.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Strategies designed to enhance cerebral cAMP have been proposed as symptomatic treatments to counteract cognitive deficits. However, pharmacological therapies aimed at reducing PDE4, the main class of cAMP catabolizing enzymes in the brain, produce severe emetic side effects. We have recently synthesized a 3-cyclopentyloxy-4-methoxybenzaldehyde derivative, structurally related to rolipram, and endowed with selective PDE4D inhibitory activity. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of the new drug, namely GEBR-7b, on memory performance, nausea, hippocampal cAMP and amyloid-β (Aβ) levels. To measure memory performance, we performed object recognition tests on rats and mice treated with GEBR-7b or rolipram. The emetic potential of the drug, again compared with rolipram, was evaluated in rats using the taste reactivity test and in mice using the xylazine/ketamine anaesthesia test. Extracellular hippocampal cAMP was evaluated by intracerebral microdialysis in freely moving rats. Levels of soluble Aβ peptides were measured in hippocampal tissues and cultured N2a cells by elisa. GEBR-7b increased hippocampal cAMP, did not influence Aβ levels and improved spatial, as well as object memory performance in the object recognition tests. The effect of GEBR-7b on memory was 3 to 10 times more potent than that of rolipram, and its effective doses had no effect on surrogate measures of emesis in rodents. Our results demonstrate that GEBR-7b enhances memory functions at doses that do not cause emesis-like behaviour in rodents, thus offering a promising pharmacological perspective for the treatment of memory impairment.
    British Journal of Pharmacology 06/2011; 164(8):2054-63. · 5.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A family of dual Src/Abl inhibitors characterized by a substituted pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine scaffold was previously reported by us and proved to be active against several tumor cell lines. Among these compounds, a promising antileukemia lead (1) has been recently identified, but, unfortunately, it suffers from substandard pharmaceutical properties. Accordingly, an approach for the optimization of the lead 1 is described in the present work. A series of more soluble pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine derivatives were rationally designed and proved to maintain the dual Src/Abl activity of the lead. Selected compounds showed an interesting activity profile against three different leukemic cells also in hypoxic conditions, which are usually characterized by imatinib-resistance. Finally, in vitro ADME properties (PAMPA permeation, water solubility, microsomal stability) for the most promising inhibitors were also evaluated, thus allowing the identification of a few optimized analogues of lead 1 as promising antileukemia agents.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 03/2011; 54(8):2610-26. · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A(1) adenosine receptor antagonists have been proposed to possess an interesting range of potential therapeutic applications. We have already reported the synthesis and the biological characterization of a family of pyrazolo[3,4-b]pyridine derivatives as A(1) adenosine ligands endowed with an antagonistic profile. In the present work, we report the LC separation of enantiomers of our most active A(1) antagonists together with the determination of their absolute configuration by means of X-ray crystal structure analysis. Biological assays confirmed a different activity for the two enantiomers, with the R one showing the higher human A(1)AR affinity. We also developed a homology model of this receptor subtype in order to suggest a binding disposition of the ligands into the hA(1)AR. All of the obtained data suggest that the compound's chirality plays a key role in A(1) affinity.
    Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry 03/2011; 9(12):4448-55. · 3.49 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

681 Citations
170.66 Total Impact Points


  • 2001–2014
    • Università degli Studi di Genova
      • • Dipartimento di Medicina sperimentale (DIMES)
      • • Dipartimento di Farmacia (DIFAR)
      Genova, Liguria, Italy
  • 2004–2013
    • Università degli Studi di Siena
      • Department of Medicine, Surgery and Neuroscience
      Siena, Tuscany, Italy