ChemMedChem 2017 07 25() doi 10.1002/cmdc.201700228
Studies directed at developing a broadly acting non-nucleoside inhibitor of HCV NS5B led to the discovery of a novel structural class of 5-aryl benzofurans that simultaneously interact with both the palm I and palm II binding regions. An initial candidate was potent in vitro against HCV GT1a and GT1b replicons, and induced multi-log reductions in HCV viral load when orally dosed to chronic GT1 infected chimpanzees. However, in vitro potency losses against clinically relevant GT1a variants prompted a further effort to develop compounds with sustained potency across a broader array of HCV genotypes and mutants. Ultimately, a biology and medicinal chemistry collaboration led to the discovery of the development candidate MK-8876. MK-8876 demonstrated a pan-genotypic potency profile and maintained potency against clinically relevant mutants. It demonstrated moderate bioavailability in rats and dogs, but showed low plasma clearance characteristics consistent with once-daily dosing. Herein we describe the efforts which led to the discovery of MK-8876, which advanced into Phase 1 monotherapy studies for evaluation and characterization as a component of an all-oral direct-acting drug regimen for the treatment of chronic HCV infection.