Organophosphorus (OP) chemical warfare agents, such as sarin and soman, are acutely toxic compounds that act by inhibiting the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) at nerve-nerve and neuromuscular junctions in the central and peripheral nervous systems, respectively. Inhibition of the enzyme occurs by phosphylation of the active site serine nucleophile that is normally involved in catalysis. Prompt administration of oximes can lead to dephosphylation of the phosphyl-AChE adduct and hence is an antidote strategy. However, and particularly with the chemical warfare agent soman, the initial phosphyl-AChE adduct undergoes a dealkylation reaction that leads to what is called the aged adduct, for which there is no known antidote. This application proposes to address this perplexing problem by synthesis and evaluation of AChE ligands that can bind in the active site of the aged enzyme adduct, and subsequently serve as methyl transfer agents to realkylate the aged enzyme. This in turn will resurrect the susceptibility of the adduct to nucleophilic dephosphylation by oximes and hence lead to recovery of enzyme activity. Success in this endeavor should therefore open the door to the development of efficacious drugs for antidote therapy against currently intractable OP chemical warfare agents.
This application endeavors to synthesize and evaluate ligands of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase that can serve as antidotes against organophosphorus (OP) chemical warfare agents. This work is motivated by the concern that terrorist organizations may aspire to inflict mass casualties by use of these agents. It is anticipated that as OP agent antidote therapy improves, the health and security risks that these agents pose to our society will be ameliorated.
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