Sepsis, otherwise referred to as “blood poisoning” is a serious clinical problem, the incidence of which continues to rise in the US and worldwide despite advances in antimicrobial chemotherapy. The primary trigger in Gram-negative sep- sis is endotoxin, a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) constituent of the outer membrane of all Gram-negative bacteria. The structurally highly conserved glycolipid called lipid A is the active moiety of LPS. Lipid A is composed of a hydrophilic, bis-phosphorylated di-glucosamine backbone, and a hydrophobic polyacyl domain. The bis-anionic, amphiphilic nature of lipid A enables it to interact with a variety of cationic hydrophobic ligands, including polymyxin B, a toxic peptide antibiotic which binds to lipid A and neutralizes endotoxicity. Having determined the struc- tural basis of the interaction of polymyxin B with lipid A, our long-term goal has been to rationally design non-peptidic, nontoxic, small-molecule LPS-sequestrants. Our efforts began with defining the central pharmacophore that determined LPS- recognition and -neutralization properties in small molecules, which led to the discovery of a novel lipopolyamine lead, DS-96. DS-96 is an effective LPS- neutralizer, rivaling polymyxin B in a panel of vitro assays, as well as in protecting animals against endotoxicosis. Structure-activity relationships in our effort to ratio- nally design endotoxin sequestering agents, preclinical assessment of hits and leads, and approaches to overcoming issues with toxicity are described in this chapter.
- Polymyxin B
- Septic shock