The early research and development of ebselen

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Abstract

Ebselen (2-phenyl-1,2-benzisoselenazol-3(2H)-one; PZ-51, DR-3305), is an organoselenium compound with glutathione peroxidase (GPx)-like, thiol-dependent, hydroperoxide reducing activity. As an enzyme mimic for activity of the selenoenzyme GPx, this compound has proved to be highly useful in research on mechanisms in redox biology. Furthermore, the reactivity of ebselen with protein thiols has helped to identify novel, selective targets for inhibitory actions on several enzymes of importance in pharmacology and toxicology. Importantly, the selenium in ebselen is not released and thus is not bioavailable, ebselen metabolites being excreted in bile and urine. As a consequence, initial concerns about selenium toxicity, fortunately, were unfounded. Potential applications in medical settings have been explored, notably in brain ischemia and stroke. More recently, there has been a surge in interest as new medical applications have been taken into consideration. The first publication on the biochemical effects of ebselen appeared 30 years ago (Müller et al. [4]), which prompted the authors to retrace the early development from their perspective. It is a fascinating example of fruitful interaction between research-oriented industry and academia

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