Department of Chemistry, Center for Cancer Research and Institute for Drug Discovery, Purdue University, 720 Clinic Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907, United States; Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, United States. Electronic address: [Email]
Antibiotic resistance remains a major global public health threat that requires sustained discovery of novel antibacterial agents with unexploited scaffolds. Structure-activity relationship of the first-generation aryl isonitrile compounds we synthesized led to an initial lead molecule that informed the synthesis of a second-generation of aryl isonitriles. From this new series of 20 compounds, three analogues inhibited growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (from 1 to 4 µM) and were safe to human keratinocytes. Compound 19, with an additional isonitrile group exhibited improved activity against MRSA compared to the first-generation lead compound. This compound emerged as a candidate worthy of further investigation and further reinforced the importance of the isonitrile functionality in the compounds' anti-MRSA activity. In a murine skin wound model, 19 significantly reduced the burden of MRSA, similar to the antibiotic fusidic acid. In summary, 19 was identified as a new lead aryl isonitrile compound effective against MRSA.