About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« R. B. Woodward Does Furnish A Room | Main | The CETP Rogues Gallery »

June 29, 2012

Odd Functionality in Drugs: A Bis-N-Oxide

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

There are a number of structures that I've never been quite able to make up my mind about in medicinal chemistry. One of those is the pyridine N-oxide. You really don't see those in drugs (at least, no examples come to mind), but you don't see many people trying to advance them as drugs, either. Note: the first comment points out the two key examples I'd forgotten: librium and minoxidil. Once in a while they turn up in the literature, often never to be seen again. I believe that one problem with them is that they present in a living system as mild oxidizing agents, which is the sort of thing that cells try to avoid, and I can't imagine that their pharmacokinetics are very appealing either. There are quite a few pyridine derivatives that are turned into their N-oxides on the way to being excreted, which makes you think that bringing one in from the the start is greasing the skids for fast clearance. But I've never seen one dosed, so how would I know for sure?

These thoughts are prompted by this paper from J. Med. Chem., which has an even stranger-looking benzotriazine bis-oxide. These compounds seem quite active against drug-resistant tuberculosis strains (and it's always good to see something that can kill those guys off), but I'll watch with interest to see if they can be developed into drugs. Anyone else out there ever had the nerve to push an N-oxide forward?

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Life in the Drug Labs


1. Anonymous on June 29, 2012 8:14 AM writes...

Minoxidil and librium are N-oxide drugs that have been clinically successful.

Permalink to Comment

2. BioBrits SD on June 29, 2012 8:26 AM writes...

Acipimox is a Pyrazine N- oxide. I believe approved only in Europe as a niacin receptor agonist for dislypidemia

Permalink to Comment

3. petros on June 29, 2012 9:23 AM writes...

In the search to develop PDE4 inhibitors it was common for companies to describe, or even develop, N-oxides of their pyridine.

Roflumilast is approved as the pyridine but the N-oxide metabolite is approximately equipotent.

Permalink to Comment

4. tuky tuky on June 29, 2012 9:28 AM writes...

Per example, Minoxidil, a well-known vasodilator containing an N-oxide functionality

Permalink to Comment

5. Hap on June 29, 2012 1:03 PM writes...

They look like tirapazamine analogs. SRI had the rights to the parent as a reductively activated antitumor agent and radiation sensitizer, and it was in Phase III trials (of course, that was five years ago, so I'm not thinking that went so well and, sure enough, it didn't).

Permalink to Comment

6. Peter on July 2, 2012 7:17 PM writes...

Thank you for referencing my paper Derek. I am regular reader and it is nice to get noticed. I agree that N-oxides and especially Di-N-oxides are odd compounds and not typical drugs. I was also initially hesitant to pursue this series based on some of the risks mentioned. After testing the compounds in numerous assays to measure some of their in vivo properties, I have been pleasantly surprised. While it is still not a group I would intentionally add to other classes of compounds we are working on, it does impart tremendous solubility without compromising permeability.

Permalink to Comment

7. Jon on July 19, 2012 12:41 AM writes...

Interesting to see these tirapazamine-like compounds being tested for TB activity. I guess the link is in the redox activation, similar to nitroimidazoles which also posses some anti-TB activity.

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry