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Utrophin modulation is a disease-modifying therapeutic strategy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy that would be applicable to all patient populations. To improve the suboptimal profile of ezutromid, the first-in-class clinical candidate, a second generation of utrophin modulators bearing a phosphinate ester moiety was developed. This modification significantly improved the physicochemical and ADME properties, but one of the main lead molecules was found to have dose-limiting hepatotoxicity. In this work we describe how less lipophilic analogues retained utrophin modulatory activity in a reporter gene assay, upregulated utrophin protein in dystrophic mouse muscle cells, but also had improved physicochemical and ADME properties. Notably, ClogP was found to directly correlate with pIC50 in HepG2 cells, hence leading to a potentially safer toxicological profiles in this series. Compound 21 showed a balanced profile (H2K EC50: 4.17 μM, solubility: 477 μM, mouse hepatocyte T1/2 > 240 min) and increased utrophin protein 1.6-fold in a Western blot assay.

Original publication




Journal article


ACS Med Chem Lett

Publication Date





2421 - 2427