Indexed on: 25 Nov '14Published on: 25 Nov '14Published in: PNAS
Enhancing the oral bioavailability of peptide drug leads is a major challenge in drug design. As such, methods to address this challenge are highly sought after by the pharmaceutical industry. Here, we propose a strategy to identify appropriate amides for N-methylation using temperature coefficients measured by NMR to identify exposed amides in cyclic peptides. N-methylation effectively caps these amides, modifying the overall solvation properties of the peptides and making them more membrane permeable. The approach for identifying sites for N-methylation is a rapid alternative to the elucidation of 3D structures of peptide drug leads, which has been a commonly used structure-guided approach in the past. Five leucine-rich peptide scaffolds are reported with selectively designed N-methylated derivatives. In vitro membrane permeability was assessed by parallel artificial membrane permeability assay and Caco-2 assay. The most promising N-methylated peptide was then tested in vivo. Here we report a novel peptide (15), which displayed an oral bioavailability of 33% in a rat model, thus validating the design approach. We show that this approach can also be used to explain the notable increase in oral bioavailability of a somatostatin analog.