Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Keith C. Ellis


C-terminal binding proteins (CtBPs) are transcriptional co-repressors involved in developmental processes, and also implicated in a number of breast, ovarian, colon cancers, and resistance against cancer chemotherapy. CtBP is a validated novel potential anti-cancer target. In this project we sought to develop potent and selective small-molecule inhibitors of CtBP. Using a combination of classical medicinal chemistry and modern computational approaches, we designed a potent inhibitor HIPP (hydroxyimino-3-phenylpropanoic acid) that showed an IC50 of 0.24 μM against recombinant CtBP. Further elucidation of the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of HIPP led to the design of more potent inhibitors 3-Cl HIPP (CtBP IC50 = 0.17 μM) and 4-Cl HIPP (CtBP IC50 = 0.18 μM). These compounds also showed inhibition in HCT-116 colon cancer cells with GI50 values ~ 1-4 mM. The compounds showed no off-target toxicity against a closely related protein. This is a starting point for the development of CtBP inhibitors as anti-cancer therapeutics. The second part of this dissertation focuses on C–H activation chemistry. C–H activation is the most atom-economical method of introducing complexity into a molecule, even at late stages of drug/product development. We have used solid-supported palladium nanoparticle catalyst (Pd-MWCNT) to investigate the scope of C–H activation reactions it can catalyse. Pd-MWCNT was found to efficiently catalyse N-chelation directed C-H activation reactions – halogenations, oxygenations and arylations. The turn-over numbers for these reactions were significantly higher than that of the reported homogenous catalyst. The added advantages of reuse/recyclability of catalyst, low contamination of metal in the final product make this catalyst very attractive on an industrial scale. This work serves as a foundation for the further development of Pd-MWCNT catalyst in late-stage synthesis of drugs and/or diversification of products.


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