The effective management of AIDS with HIV protease inhibitors, or the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors to treat hypertension, indicates that proteases do make good drug targets. On the other hand, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitors from several companies have failed in both cancer and rheumatoid arthritis clinical trials. Mindful of the MMP inhibitor experience, this chapter explores how tractable proteases are as drug targets from a chemistry perspective. It examines the recent success of other classes of drug for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and highlights the need to consider where putative targets lie on pathophysiological pathways--regardless of what kind of therapeutic entity would be required to target them. With genome research yielding many possible new drug targets, it explores the likelihood of discovering proteolytic enzymes that are causally responsible for disease processes and that might therefore make better targets, especially if they lead to the development of drugs that can be administered orally. It also considers the impact that biologics are having on drug discovery, and in particular whether biologically derived therapeutics such as antibodies are likely to significantly alter the way we view proteases as targets and the methods used to discover therapeutic inhibitors.
- © 2003 The Biochemical Society