The scale-up of synthetic methods for producing small molecule therapeutics can often prove to be problematic and expensive. Synthetic mechanisms can be inefficient and purification methods used to select specific isomers or remove reactants or other contaminants can often be difficult to scale. The modular approach we developed for creating small molecule targeting agents called SHALs (Selective High Affinity Ligands) as therapeutics and diagnostics for B-cell lymphoma circumvents many of these problems by using off the shelf components as “recognition elements” that collectively contribute to the molecules high affinity and selectivity and miniPEG and common amino acids to build up the scaffold using solid phase chemistry. Here we present the results of our efforts to scale up the synthesis of the first of these promising new drug candidates, SH7139, to provide the compounds needed for pre-IND animal testing and a pet dog lymphoma clinical trial. Working with AmbioPharm Inc,, a CRO with extensive expertise in the GMP synthesis of peptide pharmaceuticals, we recently completed small pilot production scale syntheses of SH7139 and several closely related analogs. The simple solid phase peptide-based chemistry used to synthesize the compounds coupled with preparative HPLC adapted well to scale-up and resulted in the production of highly purified compounds identical in structure (as determined by mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy) to the bench scale syntheses we performed in house. However, one unexpected and notable difference between the scaled-up synthetic products and their bench-scale synthesis counterparts was their solubility. SH7139 and two of its analogs, which are essentially insoluble in water and PBS when synthesized in house, were observed to be highly soluble (>100mg/ml) when synthesized using the scale-up protocol. While the reason for this is still under investigation, microscopic analyses of the dried product suggest the solubility difference may relate to the lyophilization step used to produce the dried product. The majority of the insoluble SH7139 we produce in bench-scale syntheses is amorphous in form, while the soluble SH7139 produced by AmbioPharm appears to be in a semi-crystalline or glass-like state. This research was supported, in part, by NIH/NCI SBIR grant 1R43CA159843-01 to Rod Balhorn.

Citation Format: Monique Balhorn, Saphon Hok, Rod Balhorn. Optimizing a modular synthetic approach for producing SH7139, a new drug candidate for treating B-cell lymphomas. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2013 Apr 6-10; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2013;73(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 2453. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2013-2453