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This letter describes the further chemical optimization of VU0424238 (auglurant), an mGlu NAM clinical candidate that failed in non-human primate (NHP) 28 day toxicology due to accumulation of a species-specific aldehyde oxidase (AO) metabolite of the pyrimidine head group. Here, we excised the pyrimidine moiety, identified the minimum pharmacophore, and then developed a new series of saturated ether head groups that ablated any AO contribution to metabolism. Putative back-up compounds in this novel series provided increased sp character, uniform CYP-mediated metabolism across species, good functional potency and high CNS penetration. Key to the optimization was a combination of matrix and iterative libraries that allowed rapid surveillance of multiple domains of the allosteric ligand.
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