Bi- or multifunctional opioid peptide drugs

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Abstract

Strategies for the design of bi- or multifunctional drugs are reviewed. A distinction is made between bifunctional drugs interacting in a monovalent fashion with two targets and ligands containing two distinct pharmacophores binding in a bivalent mode to the two binding sites in a receptor heterodimer. Arguments are presented to indicate that some of the so-called “bivalent” ligands reported in the literature are unlikely to simultaneously interact with two binding sites. Aspects related to the development of bi- or multifunctional drugs are illustrated with examples from the field of opioid analgesics. The drug-like properties of the tetrapeptide Dmt1[DALDA] with triple action as a μ opioid agonist, norepinephrine uptake inhibitor and releaser of endogenous opioid peptides to produce potent spinal analgesia are reviewed. Rationales for the development of opioid peptides with mixed agonist/antagonist profiles as analgesics with reduced side effects are presented. Progress in the development of mixed μ opioid agonist/δ opioid antagonists with low propensity to produce tolerance and physical dependence is reviewed. Efforts to develop bifunctional peptides containing a μ opioid agonist and a cholecystokinin antagonist or an NK1 receptor antagonist as analgesics expected to produce less tolerance and dependence are also reviewed. A strategy to improve the drug-like properties of bifunctional opioid peptide analgesics is presented.

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