University of Illinois at Chicago

Small Molecules for NRF2 Activation and Analytical Techniques to Visualize Cell Permeability

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posted on 2020-08-01, 00:00 authored by Brian David
The care and treatment of patients exhibiting chronic wounds is a costly and painful ordeal for many across the world. Although there have been clinical treatments, including bandages, dressings, and debridement, there is only one FDA-approved pharmacological treatment for patients. The lack of pharmaceutical therapies represents an understudied and unmet medical need. An essential factor in wound healing and an important regulator of inflammation, NRF2 is a transcription factor that induces many cytoprotective and antioxidant genes. As seen in other inflammatory disorders, activating NRF2 could be a useful therapeutic strategy to treat chronic skin wounds. Non-covalent NRF2 activators can be developed by inhibiting the interaction of NRF2 with its negative regulator, KEAP1. We have developed a structure-activity relationship around a known, naphthalene-based non-covalent NRF2 activator, to create a NRF2 activator based on an isoquinoline scaffold. This work highlights some of the SAR of the peripheral aryl rings, in the hopes of increasing metabolic stability. The work also highlights introduction of positive charge to balance the overall charge of our lead compounds. Using a mouse model, we show that one of these isoquinolines can decrease the time to wound closure. Additionally, MALDI IMS presents a tool that we can use to detect macrocycles and small molecules, without the use of a chemical label. Here, we show a novel approach to analyze uptake of stabilized alpha-helical peptides in tumor explants using MALDI IMS. Another approach shown in this research is utilizing MALDI imaging to determine the penetration of the NRF2 activator treatment in the diabetic mouse model.



Moore, Terry W.


Moore, Terry W.


Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

DiPietro, Luisa DiMagno, Stephen Sanchez, Laura Riley, Andrew

Submitted date

August 2020

Thesis type



  • en

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