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1. WO2020002911 - NATURAL KILLER CELLS

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NATURAL KILLER CELLS

F!ELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to expanded Natural Killer (NK) cell populations, to methods of producing the same and therapeutic applications thereof. More specifically, the invention relates to the expansion of NK cells by increasing the expression of specific transcription factors associated with !MK celi production.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There has been an increase in interest in Natural Killer (NK) cells as they are cytotoxic against cancerous, pathogen-infected and otherwise damaged ceils. NK cells are innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), specifically large granular cytotoxic lymphocytes that bridge the innate and the adaptive arms of the immune response. They make up 10-15% of circulating lymphocytes in the peripheral blood. NK cells also exhibit the highest level of cytotoxic activity within the immune system. Therefore, altered NK cell functionality or numbers impact the functioning of the immune system against infection and cancer. For example, a large scale study in Japan has shown that reduced levels of NK cells in a cohort of people aged over 40 is associated with a significantly higher incidence of cancer.

Similarly to B ceils and T cells, these NK cells are derived from Common Lymphoid Progenitor (CLP) cells that in turn come from Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs). However, NK cells are different from B and T cells as they lack specific cell surface antigen receptors. Due to this, NK ceils may kill cancerous and pathogen-infected cells without prior sensitisation, making them part of the innate immune response. They also have a critical role in tumour immunosurvei!iance by directly influencing the adaptive immune response.

Activation of NK cells triggers them to release perforin and cytoplasmic granules containing granzymes. Perforin polymerises to form pores on target cells in the presence of Ca2+. Granzymes may enter these pores into target cells, causing DNA fragmentation and apoptosis, NK cells may also secrete cytokines, which trigger the action of other immune ceils in the adaptive arm of the immunity.

Due to the importance of NK cells in immune response against pathogen infection and cancer cells, multiple clinical trials have tested the efficacy of NK ceils in adoptive transfer protocols. In adoptive transfer, NK cells isolated from the blood of donors are expanded ex vivo and matured into healthy and functional NK cells prior to transfusion into recipients. However, to be effective it is crucial that NK ceil donors are be screened for their KIR genotype, where the donor must have the appropriate KIR allelic polymorphism to the recipient to allow recognition of target ceils for

destruction. In any event, studies have found that the expanded products have lower clinical success rate than expected, with less ability to kill cancerous or infected cells. Thus, there are significant barriers to the current adoptive transfer protocols.

An alternative therapeutic approach is to increase the number of endogenous NK cells. One method is the administration of cytokines that are essentia! for NK cell development. Administration of IL-2 and IL-15 was predicted to enhance NK cel! development. !L-2 promotes the proliferation and cytotoxicity of NK cells, whereas IL-15 promotes the development and expansion of NK cells. However, in in vivo studies, the cytokines were found only stimulate a minimal expansion of NK cells with reduced half-life, even at a very high dose. Further, administered cytokines often leads to systemic toxicity due to inappropriate activation of immune responses and the induction of NK ceil apoptosis.

Thus, using conventional methods and techniques, producing large numbers of NK cells is difficult, and producing fully functional NK cells with high cytotoxicity is even harder. There is currently no drug available that selectively increases NK cell numbers. Therefore, there is a need to develop new methods of NK cell production; both ex vivo to produce large numbers of functional NK cells for therapeutic and research use; and in vivo.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Natural Killer (NK) ceils have a critical role in the immune system where they destroy cancerous, pathogen-infected or damaged cells. Boosting NK cell number or functionality is predicted to increase the killing of these cells. Existing therapies such as NK cell adoptive transfer and cytokine enhancement of endogenous NK cells are not very successful in terms of their efficacy.

NK ceils are differentiated from the HSCs in the bone marrow and distributed throughout lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues including lymph nodes, spleen, peripheral blood, lungs and liver. Specific cytokines and transcription factors are needed to encourage HSCs to develop into NK cells. Each cytokine and transcription factor must be present at a precise time and concentration in order to push differentiation from HSCs into NK cells. However, the precise hierarchy of cytokines and transcription factors governing NK cell maturation is still incompletely understood.

In particular, the present inventors have focussed on E4 binding protein 4 (E4bp4), which is also known as NfilB. Upregulation of E4hp4 is a promising strategy to increase the production of NK cells as over expression of E4bp4 in HSCs greatly enhances in vitro NK cell production. However, transcription factors can be hard to drug because of their structure and function. For example, they usually lack enzymatic activity or cofactor binding sites. The present inventors have previously shown that inhibiting the action of REV-ERB increases NK cel! production. In particular, the inventors demonstrated that inhibiting the action of REV-ERB using the REV-ERB antagonist SR8278 increases E4bp4 expression, which in turn increases NK cell production. Many synthetic ligands for REV-ERB have been generated in the art. However, on screening the vast majority of these ligands have been identified as agonists (with over 300 identified). The pharmacological profile of antagonist ligand SR8278 is such that it is not suitable for use in a clinical setting. Furthermore, the lack of information on the mechanism of action of SR8278 and the lack of suitable structure-activity relationships surrounding this molecule has hindered the discovery of other antagonistic compounds.

The present inventors have now generated a library of compounds, and have demonstrated that several such compounds possess improved REV-ERB inhibitory activity compared with SR8278. These compounds therefore have potential to improve the ex vivo expansion of NK cells, as well as to provide improved pharmacological properties, making them more appropriate for use in clinical applications. The compounds may also exhibit favourable pharmacological properties, such as good metabolic stability and low toxicity.

Accordingly, the present invention provides an ex vivo method for expanding an NK ceil population, comprising the steps of:

a) culturing an haematopoietic progenitor cel! (HPC) comprising sample obtained from an individual;

b) contacting said sample with a compound that inhibits the action of REV-ERB; and c) expanding said cells in vitro to produce an NK cell population;

wherein the compound has formula (I):


where: - represents bonds that are ail either present or absent;

R1 is selected from C .s hydrocarbyl, and is optionally substituted with one or more groups independently selected from Ci-4 hydrocarbyl, -OR',

-OC(OjR', -C(Q)OR', -SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -NR'2, -NR'C(0)R', -C(0)NR'2, -CN, -N02, -Ph, -CF3 and halogen;

Ra is selected from 5-10 membered heterocyclyl rings and Ci.6 hydrocarbyl, and is optionally substituted with one or more groups independently selected from Ci.4 hydrocarbyl, -OR', -OC{0)R', -C(0)OR', -SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -NR'2, -NR'C(0)R',

-C(0)NR'2, -CM, -M02, -Ph, -CF3 and halogen;

X is selected from -O- and -MR'- or is absent;

Y is selected from -C(O)- or -CR'2-;

Z is selected from -O- and -NR'- or is absent;

each Ra is independently selected from H, C1-4 hydrocarbyl, -OR', -OC(0)R', -C(0)OR',

-SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -N R'2J -N R'C(0)R', -C(0)N R'2, -CM, -M02, -Ph, -CF3 and halogen; each RD is independently selected from H, C _4 hydrocarbyl and -OR';

Rc is selected from H and Ci_4 hydrocarbyl; and

each R' is independently selected from H, Ci-4 hydrocarbyl and -Ph;

or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof, provided that the compound is not:


In some embodiments, - represents bonds that are all present and the compound is a closed ring structure according to formula la:


R1 may be unsubstituted and, as such, is preferably selected from Ci.6 alkyl and Ci.6 alkenyl, more preferably, R1 is selected from Ci.6 alkyl, even more preferably from
alkyl, such as from methyl, ethyl and propyl.

R2 may be selected from: (i) optionally substituted 5-10 membered heterocyciyl rings, preferably optionally substituted 5-10 membered heteroaryl rings, and the 5-10 membered heteroaryl ring is preferably an optionally substituted 5-, 6- or 9-membered heteroaryl rings, wherein optionally the 5-, 6-, or 9-membered heteroaryl ring is selected from optionally substituted: furanyl, thiopheny!, oxazolyl, isooxazolyl, isothiazolyl, thiazo!y!, pyrazolyl, imidazolyl, pyrrolyl and tr!azolyl, pyridinyl, pyridazinyl, pyrimidinyl and pyraziny!, indoly!, isoindolyl, indazolyl, benzimidazolyl, azaindolyl, benzofuranyl, isobenzofuranyi, benzisoxazolyl and benzoxazoly!; and (ii) optionally substituted phenyl, preferably substituted phenyl; and/or R2 may be unsubstituted or substituted with one or two groups independently selected from C .4 alkyl, -OR', -OC(0)R', -C(Q)OR', -SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -NR' 2, -IMR'C(0)R', -C(0)NR'2, -CN, -N02, -Ph, -CF3 and halogen, preferably R2 is unsubstituted or substituted with one or two groups independently selected from -Me, -OMe, -CN, -N02, -F, -Cl, -I and -SMe.

X may be -0-; Y may be -C(O)-; Z may be -O- or is absent, preferably Z is absent; each Ra may be independently selected from H, C1-4 alkyl and -OR', preferably from H and C1-4 alkyl, and more preferably, each Ra is H; each Rb may be independently selected from H and C1-4 alkyl, preferably, each Rb is H; Rc may be H; and/or each R' may be independently selected from H and Ci_4 alkyl, preferably from H, methyl and ethyl, and more preferably from methyl and ethyl.

In some preferred embodiments Rb and Rc are ail H, such that the compound has the formula

(II):


where R1, R2, Ra, X, Y and Z are defined herein.

In some preferred embodiments, Ra are also all H, such that the compound has the formula


where R1, R2, X, Y and Z are defined herein;

preferably X is O, such that the compound has the formula (IV):


where R1, R2, Y and Z are as defined herein;

more preferably, Y is C(Q), such that the compound has the formula (V):


where R1, R and Z are as defined herein;

sti!! more preferably, R1 is ethyl, such that the compound has the formula (VI):

where R2 and Z are as defined herein;

yet still more preferably, the compound is a closed ring structure with the formula (VII):


where R2 and Z are as defined herein.

In some embodiments of the method of the invention the compound has a formula selected from:


5


wherein preferably the compound has the formula:


wherein more preferably the compound has the formula:


Typically said compound increases E4hp4 expression by decreasing REV-ERB activity. In some embodiments of the method of the invention, said compound decreases the activity of REV-ERB-a and/or REV-ERB-b, preferably REV-ERB-b, and more preferably REV-ERB-a and REV-ERB-b. In some preferred embodiments, said compound is a REV-ERB antagonist, preferably an antagonist of REV-ERB-a and REV-ERB-b.

According to the invention, said method may further comprise a step of culturing the HPCs in the presence of a Notch ligand, wherein optionally the vessel in which the HPCs are cultured is coated with the Notch ligand, in some embodiments (a) the Notch ligand is delta-like ligand 4 (DLL4), or a fragment thereof which retains the function of DLL4; and/or (b) the Notch ligand is present on or from 4 days after isolating said HPCs. The cells may be cultured in the presence of IL-15 after the step of culturing in the presence of the Notch ligand; and/or the HPCs may be cultured in the presence of the Notch ligand in combination with !L-7, FltBL and/or stem cell factor (SCF), preferably the Notch ligand in combination with IL-7, Flt3L and SCF; wherein optionally either or both of the step of culturing in the cells in the presence of the Notch ligand and the step of culturing in the presence of IL-15 are carried out in the absence of a stromal support cell, and preferably wherein both steps are carried out in the absence of a stromal support cell.

According to the invention, the method may further comprise the step of contacting the HPCs with a compound which results in the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4, thereby causing an increase in E4bp4 activity; wherein optionally the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4 is a reduction in SUMOyiation and/or phosphorylation of E4bp4, and preferably the compound which results in the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4: (a) reduces SUMOyiation at one or more of residues K10, K116, K219, K337 and/or K394 of E4bp4, or a residue corresponding thereto, or any combination thereof; and/or (b) reduces phosphorylation at one or more of residues S286, S301 and/or S454 of E4bp4, or a residue corresponding thereto, or any combination thereof.

The sample of HPCs may be obtained from bone marrow, cord blood and/or peripheral blood.

The invention further provides an expanded NK cell population obtained by the method of the invention, wherein at least 85% of the NK cells are CD56’ and CD45+,

The invention further provides a composition comprising an expanded NK cell population of the invention and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier, diluent and/or excipient.

Also provided by the invention is a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB activity for use in a method of therapy by increasing production of natural killer (NK) cells in a patient, wherein said compound is a compound of the invention as defined herein.

The invention further provides products containing a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB and a Notch ligand as a combined preparation for simultaneous, separate or sequential use in a method of therapy by increasing production of natural killer (NK) cells in a patient, wherein said compound is a compound of the invention, and optionally said Notch ligand is de!ta-iike ligand 4 (DLL4), or a fragment thereof which retains the function of DLL4. According to the invention, said method of therapy may be: (a) a method of treating a disease or disorder selected from cancer, an infectious disease (acute or chronic), an autoimmune disease or a disease or disorder related to female infertility or pregnancy; or (b) a method of treatment of a viral infection, a bacterial infection, a protest infection, a fungal infection and/or a helminth infection.

The invention further provides a method of treatment by increasing the number of NK cells in a patient in need thereof, comprising administering to said patient a therapeutically effective amount of a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB according to the invention, and optionally a Notch ligand, wherein preferably the Notch ligand is delta-like ligand 4 (DLL4), or a fragment thereof which retains the function of DLL4.

The compound or products for use of the invention, or the method of treatment of the invention may be used in combination with antibody-mediated immunotherapy, wherein optionally-said compound or products is for administration before, simultaneously with, or after administration of the antibody- mediated immunotherapy.

The invention also provides a compound of formula (I) as defined herein, provided that the compound is not:


BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1: NK cell developmental pathway. !MK cells are differentiated from Hematopoietic

Stem Cells (HSCs). NK cells develop from HSC into Common Lymphoid Progenitor (CLP) cells, NK progenitor (!MKP) cells, immature NK (INK) ceils, mature NK (rnNK) cells and finally into conventional NK (cNK) cells, which circulate in the bloodstream. Below the diagram of the pathway are the cytokines and transcription factors that are required for NK cell development. IL-15 is one of the main cytokines required for the development of NK ceils. Others are transcription factors required for the transitions shown on the diagram.

Figure 2: (A) Timeline of example one-stage NK ceil expansion method. HPCs may be isolated and cultured plus FitBL, IL-7 and SCF cytokines. At Day 2, they may then transferred onto OP9 stromal cells plus or minus REV-ERB inhibitor compound in culture medium, optionally plus the IL-15 cytokine. (B) Schematic representation of example two-stage culture of NK cell development using a REV- ERB inhibitory compound and a Notch ligand.

Figure 3: Effect of newly generated compounds on REV-ERBa activity. Dual-!uciferase result for drug screening using 10 ng Renilla, 100 ng BmaMuc, 10 ng REV-ERBa and 280 ng BSM. Compounds were tested at 10mM concentration. Compounds 4, 7, E, 11 and 12 show significant antagonistic activity, increasing Bma!-luc expression, while compounds AG1, AG2 and AGS are agonists, reducing the signal of Bma!-!uc. (* for p<0.05, ** for p O.Ol, *** for p<0.001 and **** for p O.QQOl)

Figure 4: Effect of further newly generated compounds on REV-ERBa activity. Dua!-!uciferase result for drug screening using 10 ng Renilla, 100 ng Bma!-!uc, 10 ng REV-ERBa and 280 ng BSM. Compounds were tested at 10mM concentration. Compounds 72, 4, 7 and 11 show significant antagonistic activity, increasing BmaMuc expression, while compound AG2 is an agonist, reducing the signal of BmaMuc. {* for p O.QS, ** for p<Q.Ql and *** for p<Q.0Ql)

Figure 5: Effect of further newly generated compounds on REV-ERBa activity. DuaMuciferase result for drug screening using 10 ng Reniila, 100 ng Bmal-luc, 10 ng REV-ERBa and 280 ng BSM. Compounds were tested at 10mM concentration. Compounds 71 to 73, 4, 7 and 11 show significant antagonistic activity, increasing Bmal-luc expression, while compound AG2 is an agonist, reducing the signal of Bmal-luc. {* for p<0.05, ** for p<0.01, *** for p O.OQl and **** for p<0.0001)

Figure 6: Effect of newly generated compounds on REV-E Bb activity. Duai-!uciferase result for drug screening using 10 ng Renilla, 100 ng Bmal-luc, 10 ng REV-EBBb and 280 ng BSM. Compounds were tested at 10mM concentration. Compound 4 shows significant antagonistic activity, increasing Bmal-luc expression, while compound AG2 is an agonist, reducing the signal of Bmal-luc. (* for p<0.05 and **** for p O.0001)

Figure 7: Effect of further newly generated compounds on REV-ERBa activity. DuaMuciferase result for drug screening using 10 ng Renilla, 100 ng Bmal-luc, 10 ng REV-ERBa. and 280 ng BSM. Compounds were tested at 10mM concentration. Compounds 4, 7, 11, 27 and 28 show significant antagonistic activity, increasing Bmal-luc expression, while compound AGS is an agonist, reducing the signal of Bmal-luc. (* for p<0.05, *** for p<0.001 and **** for p<0.0001)

Figure 8: Effect of further newly generated compounds on REV-ERB activity. DuaMuciferase result for drug screening using 10 ng Reniila, 100 ng Bma uc, 10 ng REV-EBBb and 280 ng BSM. Compounds were tested at 10mM concentration. Compounds 18 and 19 show antagonistic activity,

increasing Bmal-luc expression, while compound AG2 is an agonist, reducing the signal of Bmal-luc.

(**** for p<o.oo01)

Figure 9: NK cells development assay results showing the total number of NK cells for each assay condition. Compound 7 shows a significant increase in NK ceil number, with an increase also observed for Compound 11 compared with SR8278 and agonist compound AG2. {* for p<0.05)

Figure 10: NK cells development assay results showing the total number of NK ceils for each assay condition. Compounds 7, 11 and 72 show a significant increase in NK cell number compared with SR8278 and agonist compound AG2. (** for p<0.01 and *** for p O.QQl)

DETAiLED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Definitions

As used herein, the singular forms "a," "an" and "the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

The term comprising encompasses both "comprising" (open definition) and "consisting of" closed definition). In other words, if an embodiment, description, aspect or disclosure comprises the recited feature(s), the present invention also encompasses said embodiment, description, aspect or disclosure consisting of said feature(s).

The term“chemically feasible" means a bonding arrangement or a compound where the generally understood rules of organic structure are not violated; for example a structure within a definition of a claim that would contain in certain situations a pentavalent carbon atom that would not exist in nature would be understood to not be within the claim. The structures disclosed herein, in all of their embodiments are intended to include only "chemically feasible" structures, and any recited structures that are not chemically feasible, for example in a structure shown with variable atoms or groups, are not intended to be disclosed herein and do not form part of the present invention.

An "analogue" of a chemical structure, as the term is used herein, refers to a chemical structure that preserves substantial similarity with the parent structure, although it may not be readily derived synthetically from the parent structure. A related chemical structure that is readily derived synthetically from a parent chemical structure is referred to as a "derivative."

When a substituent is specified to be an atom or atoms of specified identity, "or a bond", a configuration is referred to when the substituent is "a bond" that the groups that are immediately adjacent to the specified substituent are directly connected to each other in a chemically feasible bonding configuration.

All chiral, diastereomeric, racemic forms of a structure are intended, unless a particular stereochemistry or isomeric form is specifically indicated. Compounds used in the present invention can include enriched or resolved optica! isomers at any or all asymmetric atoms as are apparent from the depictions, at any degree of enrichment. Both racemic and diastereomeric mixtures, as well as the individual optical isomers can be isolated or synthesized so as to be substantially free of their enantiomeric or diastereomeric partners, and these are ail within the scope of the invention.

As used herein, the terms "stable compound" and "stable structure" are meant to indicate a compound that is sufficiently robust to survive isolation to a useful degree of purity from a reaction mixture, and formulation into an efficacious therapeutic agent. Only stable compounds are contemplated herein.

Standard abbreviations for chemical groups such as are well known in the art are used; e.g., Me = methyl, Et = ethyl, i-Pr = isopropyl, Bu = butyl, t-Bu = tert-butyl, Ph = phenyl, Bn = benzyl, Ac = acetyl, Bz = benzoyl, and the like.

When a group is recited, wherein the group can be present in more than a single orientation within a structure resulting in more than single molecular structure, e.g., a carboxamide group C(=0)NR, it is understood that the group can be present in any possible orientation, e.g., X-C(=0)N(R)-Y or X-N(R)C(=0)-Y, unless the context clearly limits the orientation of the group within the molecular structure.

Hydrocarbyi groups are groups that consist only of carbon and hydrogen, though the groups may be substituted one or more times, as defined herein. Hydrocarbyi groups include straight chain and branched groups. Compounds of formula (1) typically have hydrocarbyi groups with from 1 to 6 carbon atoms, particularly from 1 to 4 carbon atoms or from 1 to 3 carbon atoms. As used herein, the term "hydrocarbyi" encompasses aromatic and non-aromatic groups. Preferred hydrocarbyi groups include alkyl, alkenyl and a!kynyi groups which are described further below.

Alkyl groups include straight chain and branched alkyl groups and cycloalkyl groups having from 1 to about 20 carbon atoms, and typically from 1 to 12 carbons, from 1 to 8 carbon atoms, from 1 to 6 carbon atoms. Examples of straight chain alkyl groups include those with from 1 to 8 carbon atoms such as methyl, ethyl, n-propyl, n-butyl, n-pentyl, n-hexyl, n-heptyl, and n-octyl groups. Examples of branched alkyl groups include, but are not limited to, isopropyl, iso-butyl, sec-butyl, t-butyl, neopentyl, isopentyl, and 2,2-dimethylpropyi groups. As used herein, the term "alkyl" encompasses n-alkyl, isoalkyl, and anteisoalkyl groups as well as other branched chain forms of alkyl. Representative substituted alkyl groups can be substituted one or more times, as defined herein.

Cycloalkyl groups are cyclic alkyl groups such as, hut not limited to, cyclopropyl, cyclobutyl, cyclopentyl, cyclohexyl, cycloheptyl, and cyclooctyl groups. In some embodiments, the cycloalkyl group can have 3 to about 8-12 ring members, whereas in other embodiments the number of ring carbon atoms range from 3 to 4, 5, 6, or 7. Cydoa!ky! groups further include polycyclic cycloalkyl groups such as, but not limited to, norbornyl, adamantyl, bornyl, camphenyl, isocamphenyl, and carenyi groups, and fused rings such as, but not limited to, decalinyi, and the like. Cycloalkyl groups also include rings that are substituted with straight or branched chain alkyl groups as defined above. Representative substituted cycloalkyl groups can be mono-substituted or substituted more than once, as defined herein.

Alkenyl groups are alkyl groups, e.g. as described above, but which comprise at least one carbon-carbon double bond. Thus, alkenyl groups include straight chain and branched alkenyl groups and non-aromatic cycloalkenyl groups. Alkenyl groups are preferably, but not necessarily, bonded to the rest of a molecule through a carbon which forms part of a double bond. Representative substituted alkenyl groups can be mono-substituted or substituted more than once, as defined herein.

Alkynyl groups are alkyl groups, e.g. as described above, but which comprise at least one carbon-carbon triple bond. Thus, alkynyl groups include straight chain and branched alkynyl groups. Alkynyl groups are preferably, but not necessarily, bonded to the rest of a molecule through a carbon which forms part of a triple bond. Representative substituted alkynyl groups can be mono-substituted or substituted more than once, as defined herein.

Heterocyclyi groups/rings or the term "heterocycly!" includes aromatic and non-aromatic ring compounds containing 3 or more ring members, of which, one or more is a heteroatom such as, but not limited to, N, O, and 5. Thus a heterocyclyi can be a cycloheteroalkyl, or a heteroaryl, or if polycyclic, any combination thereof. In some embodiments, heterocycly! groups include 3 to about 20 ring members, whereas in compounds of formula (I) heterocyclyi rings typically have 5 to 10 ring members. A heterocyclyi ring can be a 5-membered ring with one heteroatom, a 6-membered ring with two heteroatoms, and so forth. The number of carbon atoms plus the number of heteroatoms sums up to equal the total number of ring atoms. A heterocyclyi ring can also include one or more double bonds. A heteroaryl ring is an embodiment of a heterocyclyi group. The phrase "heterocyclyi group" includes fused ring species including those comprising fused aromatic and non-aromatic groups. For example, a dioxolanyi ring and a benzdioxo!any! ring system (methy!enedioxyphenyi ring system) are both heterocyclyi groups within the meaning herein. The phrase also includes polycyclic ring systems containing a heteroatom as described herein. Heterocyclyi groups can be unsubstituted, or can be substituted as discussed above.

Heteroary! groups are aromatic ring compounds containing 5 or more ring members, of which, one or more is a heteroatom such as, but not limited to, N, O, and S; for instance, heteroary! rings can have 5 to about 8-12 ring members. In compounds of formula (!) heteroary! rings typically have 5 to about 10 ring members. A heteroary! group is a variety of a heterocydy! group that possesses an aromatic electronic structure. Likewise a heteroary! can be a 5-ring with one heteroatom, a 6-ring with two heteroatoms, and so forth. The number of carbon atoms plus the number of heteroatoms sums up to equal the total number of ring atoms. Heteroary! groups include, but are not limited to, groups such as pyrro!y!, pyrazolyl, triazolyl, tetrazo!y!, oxazolyl, isoxazolyl, thiazo!yl, pyridinyl, thiophenyl, benzothiopheny!, benzofuranyl, indolyl, azaindolyl, indazoly!, benzimidazoiyi, azabenzimidazolyi, benzoxazolyl, benzothiazolyl, benzothiadiazolyl, imidazopyridinyl, isoxazolopyridinyl, thianapbthalenyl, purinyl, xanthinyl, adeninyl, guaninyl, quinolinyl, isoquinoiinyl, tetrahydroquinolinyl, quinoxaiinyl, and quinazolinyl groups. Heteroary! groups can be unsubstituted, or can be substituted with groups as is discussed above. Representative substituted heteroary! groups can be substituted one or more times with groups such as those listed above.

Halogen refers to fluorine chlorine, bromine or iodine.

A "salt" as is well known in the art includes an organic compound such as a carboxylic acid, a sulfonic acid, or an amine, in ionic form, in combination with a counterion. For example, acids in their anionic form can form salts with cations such as metal cations, for example sodium, potassium, and the like; with ammonium salts such as NH4+ or the cations of various amines, including tetraa!kyl ammonium salts such as tetramethy!ammonium, or other cations such as trimethylsu!fonium, and the like. A "pharmaceutically acceptable" or "pharmacologically acceptable" salt is a salt formed from an ion that has been approved for human consumption and is generally non-toxic, such as a chloride salt or a sodium salt. A "zwitterion" is an interna! salt such as can be formed in a molecule that has at least two ionisable groups, one forming an anion and the other a cation, which serve to balance each other. For example, amino acids such as glycine can exist in a zwitterionic form. A "zwitterion" is a salt within the meaning herein. The compounds of the present invention may take the form of salts. The term "salts" embraces addition salts of free adds or free bases which are compounds of the invention. Salts can be "pharmaceutica!ly-acceptab!e salts. " The term "pharmaceutically-acceptab!e salt" refers to salts which possess toxicity profiles within a range that affords utility in pharmaceutical applications.

Pharmaceutically unacceptable salts may nonetheless possess properties such as high crystallinity, which have utility in the practice of the present invention, such as for example utility in process of synthesis, purification or formulation of compounds of the invention.

Suitable pbarmaceuticai!y-acceptafaie add addition salts may be prepared from an inorganic add or from an organic acid. Examples of inorganic adds include hydrochloric, hydrobromic, hydriodic, nitric, carbonic, sulfuric, and phosphoric acids. Appropriate organic acids may be selected from aliphatic, cycloaliphatic, aromatic, araliphatic, heterocyclic, carboxylic and sulfonic classes of organic acids, examples of which include formic, acetic, propionic, succinic, glycolic, gluconic, lactic, malic, tartaric, citric, ascorbic, glucuronic, maleic, fumaric, pyruvic, aspartic, glutamic, benzoic, anthranilic, 4-hydroxybenzoic, phenyiacetic, mandeiic, embonic (pamoic), methanesulfonic, ethanesulfonic, benzenesulfonic, pantothenic, trifluoromethanesulfonic, 2-hydroxyethanesulfonic, p-toluenesulfonic, sulfaniiic, cyclohexylaminosulfonic, stearic, aiginic, b-hydroxybutyric, salicylic, galactaric and galacturonic acid. Examples of pharmaceutically unacceptable acid addition salts include, for example, perchlorates and tetrafiuoroborates.

Suitable pharmaceutically acceptable base addition salts of compounds of the invention include, for example, metallic salts including alkali metal, alkaline earth metal and transition metal salts such as, for example, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and zinc salts. Pharmaceutically acceptable base addition salts also include organic salts made from basic amines such as, for example, IM,N-dibenzyfethylenediamine, chloroprocaine, choline, diethanolamine, ethylenediamine, meglumine (N-methylglucamine) and procaine. Examples of pharmaceutically unacceptable base addition salts include lithium salts and cyanate salts. Although pharmaceutically unacceptable salts are not generally useful as medicaments, such salts may be useful, for example as intermediates in the synthesis of Formula (I) compounds, for example in their purification by recrystallization. Ail of these salts may be prepared by conventional means from the corresponding compound according to Formula (I) by reacting, for example, the appropriate acid or base with the compound according to Formula (I). The term "pharmaceutically acceptable salts" refers to nontoxic inorganic or organic acid and/or base addition salts, see, for example, Lit et al , Salt Selection for Basic Drugs (1986), int J. Pharm , 33, 201-217, incorporated by reference herein

A "hydrate" is a compound that exists in a composition with water molecules. The composition can include water in stoichiometric quantities, such as a monohydrate or a dihydrate, or can include water in random amounts. As the term is used herein a "hydrate" refers to a solid form, i.e., a compound in water solution, while it may be hydrated, is not a hydrate as the term is used herein.

A "solvate" is a similar composition except that a solvent other that water replaces the water. For example, methanol or ethanol can form an "alcoholate", which can again be stoichiometric or non-stoichiometric. As the term is used herein a "solvate” refers to a solid form, i.e., a compound in solution in a solvent, while it may be solvated, is not a solvate as the term is used herein.

A "prodrug" as is well known in the art is a substance that can be administered to a patient where the substance is converted in vivo by the action of bioche icais within the patient's body, such as enzymes, to the active pharmaceutical ingredient. Examples of prodrugs include esters of carboxylic acid groups, which can be hydrolyzed by endogenous esterases as are found in the bloodstream of humans and other mammals. Conventional procedures for the selection and preparation of suitable prodrug derivatives are described, for example, in "Design of Prodrugs", ed. H. Bundgaard, Elsevier, 1985.

In addition, where features or aspects of the invention are described in terms of Markush groups, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention is also thereby described in terms of any individual member or subgroup of members of the Markush group. For example, if X is described as selected from the group consisting of bromine, chlorine, and iodine, claims for X being bromine and claims for X being bromine and chlorine are fully described. Moreover, where features or aspects of the invention are described in terms of Markush groups, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention is also thereby described in terms of any combination of individual members or subgroups of members of Markush groups. Thus, for example, if X is described as selected from the group consisting of bromine, chlorine, and iodine, and Y is described as selected from the group consisting of methyl, ethyl, and propyl, claims for X being bromine and Y being methyl are fully described.

If a value of a variable that is necessarily an integer, e.g., the number of carbon atoms in an alkyl group or the number of substituents on a ring, is described as a range, e.g., 0-4, what is meant is that the value can be any integer between 0 and 4 inclusive, i.e., 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4.

In various embodiments, the compound or set of compounds, such as are used in the inventive methods, can be any one of any of the combinations and/or subcombinations of the above-listed embodiments.

In various embodiments, a compound as shown in any of the Examples, or among the exemplary compounds, is provided.

Provisos may apply to any of the disclosed categories or embodiments wherein any one or more of the other above disclosed embodiments or species may be excluded from such categories or embodiments.

Natural Killer Cells

Natural Killer (NK) cells exhibit the highest level of cytotoxic activity within the immune system. iMK ceils are similar to B ceils and T cells, but lack specific cell surface antigen receptors, instead, NK ceils have activatory and inhibitory receptors that recognise motifs.

iMK ceils circulate in the blood and the peripheral lymphoid organs such as lymph nodes and spleen. They can become activated by cytokines or upon encountering target cells. The recognition and elimination of target cells is based on balancing between inhibitory and activatory signals. Activatory signals are generated by activatory receptors (NKG2D, NKp46, NKp30) binding to ligands, which can be present not only on cancerous, pathogen-infected and damaged cells, but also on healthy cells. On the other hand, inhibitory signals are generated when inhibitory receptors (KIR, CD94/NKG2A) on NK cells bind to Major Histocompatability Complex (MHC) Class I molecules that are normally present on all healthy cells. MHC Class I molecules on target cells are absent or greatly downregulated, making them ideal NK cell targets. This allowed NK cells to distinguish between target and healthy cells. In order for NK ceils to recognise and kill target cells, overall activatory signals must be greater than inhibitory signals.

NK ceils recognise and kill cancerous, pathogen-infected and damaged ceils without prior sensitisation, making them part of the innate immune response. For example, NK cells provide an early response to virus infection, occurring prior to T ceil killing of infected cells. NK cells can kill target ceils within minutes. NK cells also secrete cytokines and "weaponise" other parts of the immune system. For example, NK ceils promote T cell effector function and enhance antibody-directed cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC).

NK ceils are differentiated from haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) via the pathway set out in Figure 1. In more detail, NK cells develop from HSCs into Common Lymphoid Progenitor (CLP) cells, pre-NK progenitor (pre-NKP) cells, NK progenitor (NKP) ceils, immature NK (iNK) ceils, mature NK (mNK) cells and finally into conventional NK (cNK) cells, which circulate in the bloodstream. Although this terminology derives from NK ceil development in mice, a corresponding pathway occurs in human NK cell development. For example, HSCs develop through multiple stages of precursors (stage 1, 2 and 3), before developing into mature NK cells (stages 4 and 5). For consistency, references HSCs, CLPs, pre-NKPs, NKPs, iNK, mNK, cNK and NK cells are used herein.

However, in the context of the present invention, these terms are interchangeable with stages 1 to 5 of the human nomenclature. Below the diagram of the pathway in Figure 1 are the cytokines and transcription factors that are essential for NK cell development. IL-15 is one of the main cytokine required for the development of NK cells. Other extrinsic factors, such as specific stromal cells, are also required for the development and maturation of NK cells. According to the

present invention, Hematopoietic Progenitor Ceils (HPCs) are a heterogeneous population containing multi-potential progenitors such as HSCs, CLPs and also NKPs. HPCs are referred to as lineage negative cells, as they have not yet committed to a developmental pathway. Accordingly, in the context of the present invention, HSCs, CLP cells and !MKP cells are all HPCs and a reference to HPCs is a reference to any of HSCs, CLP cells and/or CLP cells, or any combination thereof, unless explicitly stated to the contrary.

Due to the importance of NK ceils in immune response, multiple clinical trials have tested the efficacy of NK cells in adoptive transfer protocols. Typically this is allogenic transfer, with the !MK ceils being isolated from a healthy donor and expanded. However, the downreguiation of MHC Class I molecules on target cells is partial and the KIR genotype from donors and recipients may be similar. Due to this, NK ceils transfused into recipients, even from different individuals may not attach target ceils if their KIRs recognise MHC Class I molecules. Therefore, it is crucial that NK cell donors must be screened for their KIR genotype, where the donor must have the appropriate KIR allelic polymorphism to the recipient to allow recognition of target cells for destruction. Moreover, the expanded products were found to have lower clinical success rate than expected, with less ability to kill cancerous or infected ceils.

An NK cell may be defined in terms of its marker expression, its function/activity, or a combination thereof. Such definitions are standard in the art and methods are known by which marker expression and/or NK ceil activity may be assessed. Thus, one of skill in the art would readily be able to categorise a ceil as an NK ceil using standard methodology and definitions.

For example, mNK and cNK ceils may be recognised by their expression of the surface markers CD16 (FcyRIM) and/or CD56, typically both CD16 and CD56 in humans, and NK1.1 or NK1.2 in some mice strains. NKp46 is another marker for mNK and cNK ceils, and is expressed in humans and several mice strains. Thus, NKp46 may be used as a marker for NK ceils either with or without CD16 and/or CD56 (in humans) or with or without NK1.1 or NK1.2 (in mice). Other examples of makers which can be used to identify/define NK cells according to the present invention include Ly49, natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs), CD94, NKG2, killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs), and/or leukocyte inhibitory receptors (ILT or HR), or any combination thereof, including in combination with CD16 and or CD56 (in humans) or NK1.1/NK1.2 (in mice), in some preferred embodiments mature NK cells according to the invention (i.e. mN K and cNK cells) are CD56+ and CD45+, and may be also be CD16+. As used herein, the term mature human NK cell encompasses NK ceils that are CD56bng t (stage 4) and CD56dir" (stage 5), both of which are CD56+. Mature NK cells may also be defined by the absence of markers, such as CD34, and lymphocyte markers CD3 and/or

CD19. Thus, mature NK cells of the invention may he CD56+, CD45 , CD16+, CD3 and/or CD19 , or any combination thereof, such as CD56’, CD45+, CD16+, CD3 and CD19 .

In addition or alternatively, an NK may be identified by/defined in terms of its activity. For example, an NK ceil may be identified/defined by the presence of cytolytic granules within its cytoplasm, by its ability to secrete antimicrobial molecules such as a-defensins, and/or its ability to secrete cytokines such as TNF-a, IL-10, IFN-y and TFG-b.

Unless otherwise stated herein, a reference to NK cells includes a reference to INK, mNK and cNK ceils. HSCs, CLP ceils and NKPs will typically be referred to as such.

As disclosed herein, the invention provides methods for generating an expanded population of NK ceils (referred to interchangeably herein as an expanded NK cell population or an NK ceil population). Any of the disclosure herein in relation to NK cells of the present invention may also be applied to an expanded NK ceil population of the invention.

Accordingly, the present invention provides an expanded NK cel! population. Typically an expanded NK cell population of the invention comprises INK ceils, mNK ceils and/or cNK cells, or a combination thereof. Said population may comprise HPCs, such as HSCs, CLP ceils and/or NKPs, or a combination thereof, although the numbers of such ceils is typically low relative to the number of NK ceils, as the majority of these HPCs have differentiated into NK ceils in the population. Said population may comprise other immune and/or non-immune cells. Again, the number of any such ceils is typically low relative to the number of NK ceils present in the population.

As a non-limiting example, at least 60%, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 91%, at least 92%, at least 93%, at least 94%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98%, at least 99% or more, up to 100?4 of the ceils of an expanded NK cell population of the Invention may be NK cells. Typically at least 80%, preferably at least 90%, more preferably at least 95% of the cells of an expanded NK cell population of the invention are NK cells.

In some embodiments, at least 60%, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 91%, at least 92%, at least 93%, at least 94%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98%, at least 99% or more, up to 100% of the cells of an expanded NK cell population of the invention are mature NK cells (i.e. mNK cells and/or cNK cells). Preferably at least 80?4, more preferably at least 90%, and even more preferably at least 95%, even more preferably at least 98% or more of the cells of an expanded NK cell population of the invention are mature NK cells.

The number of HPCs (including HSCs, CLP ceils and/or NKPs) may be less than 40%, less than 30%, less than 25%, less than 20%, less than 15%, less than 14%, less than 13%, less than 12%, less than 11 %, less than 10%, less than 9%, less than 8%, less than 7%, less than 6%, less than 5%, less than 4%, less than 3%, less than 2%, less than 1% of the cells of the expanded NK cell population. Typically the number of HPCs (including HSCs, CLP ceils and/or NKPs) is less than 20%, preferably less than 10%, more preferably less than 5%, even more preferably less than 2% or less of the ceils of the expanded NK ce!i population.

The number of other immune and/or non-immune ceils may be less than 40%, less than 30%, less than 25%, less than 20%, less than 15%, less than 14%, less than 13%, less than 12%, less than 11 %, less than 10%, less than 9%, less than 8%, less than 7%, less than 6%, less than 5%, less than 4%, less than 3%, less than 2%, less than 1% of the ceils of the expanded NK cell population. Typically the number of other immune and/or non-immune cells is less than 20%, preferably less than 10%, more preferably less than 5% of the ceils, even more preferably less than 2%, or less of the expanded NK cell population.

As described herein, the expanded NK cell populations made by the methods of the present invention offer several advantages over NK cell populations made by conventional adoptive transfer methods. In particular, the methods of the present invention enable the production of expanded populations with greater number of NK cells compared with conventional methods. Further, a greater proportion of the NK ceils in a population of the invention are functional, preferably fully functional, compared with populations obtained by conventional methods, in which a large number of the NK cells are "exhausted".

As used herein, the term "exhausted" in the context of NK cells means that an NK cell or expanded NK cell population has lost at least some of its effector functions, such as cytotoxic function, cytokine production and/or ADCC. Thus, an exhausted NK ceil or expanded NK cell population may exhibit impaired survival, impaired cytotoxic function, altered or impaired cytokine production and/or impaired ADCC For example, an exhausted NK cell or exhausted NK cell population may exhibit at least a 50% reduction in one of its effector functions. For example, at least a 50% reduction in cytokine secretion, at least a 50% reduction in ADCC and/or at least 50% reduction in cytotoxic activity. These values may be quantified relative to any appropriate control as defined herein. Any appropriate technique can be used to determine effector function, and hence to quantify and reduction therein. Suitable techniques are known in the art. Alternatively and/or in addition, exhausted NK cells may exhibit altered marker expression, such as an increase in the expression of one or more inhibitory receptor (as described herein) and/or a decrease in the expression of one or more activatory receptor (as described herein). In some embodiments, increased expression of NKG2A and/or Tim3 may be used as a marker for NK cell exhaustion. Again, the expression of these markers may be quantified relative to any appropriate control as defined herein.

In contrast, the terms "functional" and "fully functional" in the context of IMK ceils means that an NK cell or expanded NK cell population has all of the expected effector functions when responding to a given immune challenge. Thus, a (fully) functional NK cell or expanded NK ceil population will typically exhibit cytotoxic function, cytokine production and/or ADCC as would be observed in vivo when NK cells are activated in response to an immune challenge, and will typically exhibit enhanced survival compared with NK ceils produced using conventional methods. Alternatively and/or in addition, (fully) functional NK cells may exhibit altered marker expression, such as an increase in the expression of one or more activatory receptor (as described herein) and/or a decrease in the expression of one or more inhibitory receptor (as described herein). As a non-limiting example, a functional (mature) human NK ceil may be CD56+ and/or CD45+, preferably both CD56+ and CD45+.

As a non-limiting example, the cytotoxicity of NK cells can be determined using a degranulation assay in NK cells co -incubated with 'target cells'. A degranuiation assay involves analysing the expression of CD107a within the NK cell population. The amount of CDlQ7a correlates with cytokine secretion and NK cell-mediated lysis of target cells. NK cells can also be analysed for the expression of interferon-y (IFN- y), which is the main cytokine secreted when functional NK cells are activated. NK cells that are functional should express similar or higher CD107a as well as IFN-y when compared to a control.

Any increase in NK cell number/functionality in an expanded NK cell population made by a method of the present invention may be compared with the NK ceil number/function of an NK ceil population obtained from a control method as described herein. A control method may be any standard method known in the art for producing NK cell populations. For example, a control method may use conventional adoptive transfer techniques, rather than a method using a REV-ERB inhibitor according to the present invention. NK cells and NK cell populations produced by such control/standard methods may be used as control cells and populations as described herein.

As an expanded NK cell population of the present invention comprises significantly fewer exhausted NK cells compared to conventionally prepared NK cell populations, but instead contains a higher proportion of fully functional NK cells, this advantageously allows the use of smaller numbers of ceils to treat patients.

As described herein, the methods of the invention produce expanded NK ceil populations with a higher proportion of (fully) functional NK cells compared with conventional methods, which produce populations with large numbers of "exhausted" NK cells. Typically, in an expanded NK cell population of the invention at least 50%, at least 60%, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 91%, at least 92%, at least 93%, at least 94%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98%, at least 99% or more, up to 100% of the NK cells of an expanded NK ceil population of the invention are (fully) functional. Typically at least 80%, preferably at least 90%, more preferably at least 95%, even more preferably at least 98% or more of the NK cells of an expanded NK ceil population of the invention are fully functional, according to any definition (e.g. marker and/or effector function definition) herein.

An expanded MK cell population of the invention may be produced by any of the methods disclosed herein. Typically an expanded MK ceil population of the invention is produced by an ex vivo method as disclosed herein.

E4bp4 (also known as Nfil3) is a basic leucine zipper protein transcription factor which is involved in the regulation of IL-3 expression, and is involved in the coordinating the circadian clock. The genomic DMA sequence of the human E4bp4 gene is given in SEQ ID NO: 1 (Genbank Accession No. X64318, version X64318.1), As shown in Figure 1, E4bp4 is expressed in CLPs and is critical in the production of NK ceils from blood stem cell progenitors. Mice with the E4bp4 gene deleted do not have functional NK cells, but have normal numbers of T and B cells. In contrast, overexpression of E4bp4 in HSCs in vitro increases NK ceil production. Thus, E4bp4 is a lineage commitment factor, controlling the development of NKPs from HSCs (Figure 1). E4bp4's critical function in NK cells is specific to the early stages of the developmental pathway, as specific ablation of E4bp4 in peripheral NK ceils does not affect NK cell number or response to cytomegalovirus infection. In addition E4bp4 regulates other transcription factors that are essential in NK cell development, such as Id2 and Eomes.

Although IL-7 and IL-15 have been shown to regulate E4hp4 expression, generally very little is known about how either extrinsic or intrinsic stimuli influence E4bp4. Transcription factors such as E4bp4 can be hard to target because of their structure and function. For example, they usually lack enzymatic activity or cofactor binding sites. However, the present inventors have previously demonstrated that E4bp4 expression can he increased using a compound which inhibits the activity of REV-ERB (see PCT/GB2018/Q50542, particularly the examples, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety). Further, the present inventors have demonstrated that the use of a REV ERB inhibitor to increase E4bp4 expression results in an increase in NK cell number. Without wishing to be bound by theory, REV-ERB binds to porphyrin heme, and it is this characteristic that is believed to make REV-ERB a druggable target (see below). In sum, the inventors have shown that by

targeting REV-ERB and inhibiting its activity, it is possible to increase E4bp4 expression and hence increase NK ceil number. Accordingly, the present invention is concerned with compounds which inhibit the action of REV-ERB, and their use in increasing E4bp4 expression, and hence NK ceil number.

increase in E4bp4 expression

Accordingly, the present invention provides ex vivo methods for producing expanded NK cell populations, and therapeutic methods and applications for increasing NK cell number in a patient in need thereof. As disclosed herein, said methods and applications involve the use of a compound which inhibits the action of REV--ERB. Typically said compounds act by increasing E4bp4 expression.

An increase in E4bp4 expression may be measured relative to a control. Thus, the expression of E4bp4 in a sample of HPCs, an expanded NK cell population or in a sample obtained from a patient to be treated according to the invention may be compared with the expression of E4bp4 in a control. Expression may be quantified in terms of gene and/or protein expression, and may be compared with expression of a control (e.g. housekeeping gene or protein). The actual amount of the E4bp4 gene, RNA transcript and/or protein, such as the mass, molar amount, concentration or molarity of the E4bp4 gene, RNA transcript and/or protein, or the number of mRNA molecules per cell in a sample of HPCs, an expanded NK cell population or in a sample obtained from a patient to be treated according to the invention and the control may be assessed and compared with the corresponding value from the control. Alternatively, the expression of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein in a sample of HPCs, an expanded NK cell population or in a sample obtained from a patient to be treated according to the invention may be compared with that of the control without quantifying the mass, molar amount, concentration or molarity of the one or more gene and/or protein.

Typically the control is an equivalent population or sample in which no increase in E4bp4 expression has been effected. As a non-limiting example, in the case where a patient is treated with a compound that inhibits REV-ERB activity in order to increase E4bp4 expression, a suitable control would be a different individual to which the compound has not been administered or the same individual prior to administration of the compound. Conventional methods for the ex vivo expansion of NK cells, including known methods may be considered control methods according to the present invention.

In the context of the present invention, a reference to increasing E4bp4 expression may be understood to mean that, the expression of E4bp4 is increased by at least 10%, at least 20%, at least 30%, at least 40%, at least 50%, at least 60, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 95%, at least 100%, at least 150%, at least 200% compared with the control. Typically E4bp4 expression is increased by at least 50%, preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80%, even more preferably at least 90% or more compared with the control.

A reference to increasing E4bp4 expression may be understood to mean that, the expression of E4bp4 is increased by at least 1.5-fold, at least 2-fold, at least 2.1-fold, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2.4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fold, at least 2.7-fold, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-fold, at least 4-fold, at least 5-fold, at least 6-fold, at least 7-fold, at least 8-fold, at least 9-fold, at least 10-fold or more relative to a control. Typically E4bp4 gene expression is increased by at least 2-fold, at least 2.1-fold, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2.4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fold, at least 2.7-fold, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-fold, or more compared with the control. Typically E4bp4 protein expression is increased by at least 2-fold, at least 3-foid, preferably at least 5 -fold, more preferably at least 6 -fold or more compared with the control.

The expression of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein according to the invention may be determined by quantitative and/or qualitative analysis. Typically, gene expression may be expressed in terms of mRNA levels.

The expression level of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein according to the invention encompasses the mass of the E4bp4 RNA transcript and/or protein, the molar amount of the E4bp4 gene, mRNA transcript and/or protein, the concentration of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein and the molarity of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein. This expression level may be given in any appropriate units. For example, the concentration of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein may be given in pg/ml, ng/ml or pg/ml.

The expression level of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein according to the invention may be measured directly or indirectly.

The relative expression of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein according to the invention relative to a control may be determined using any appropriate technique. Suitable standard techniques are known in the art, for example Western blotting, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) and RT-qPCR

The expression level of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein may be increased compared with a control for at least 6 hours, at least 12 hours, at least 2.4 hours, at least 30 hours, at least 36 hours, at least 42 hours, at least 48 hours, at least 54 hours, at least 60 hours, at least 72 hours, at least 4 days, at least 5 days, at least 6 days, at least 1 week. Preferably, the expression level of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein is increased for at least 12 to 72 hours. Typically this is assessed relative to the last administration of the compound which inhibits REV-ERB activity.

The expression level of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein may be increased compared with a control for at least one, at least two, at least three, at least four, at least five, at least ten, at least 20, at least 30, at least 40 or more passages of the NK cell precursors in culture. The expression level of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein may be altered indefinitely.

REV-ERB proteins are members of the nuclear receptor family of intracellular transcription factors. The mRNA sequence of the human REV-ERBa gene (Nrldl) is given in SEQ ID NO: 3 (Genbank Accession No. NM_021724, version NM_021724.4). The mRNA sequence of the human REV-ERBP gene (Nrld2) is given in SEQ ID NO: 5 (Genbank Accession No. AB307693, version AB307G93.1). REV-ERB regulates the circadian clock, and has also been implicated in the regulation of cartilage breakdown.

The present inventors have previously demonstrated that inhibition of REV-ERB activity is sufficient to elicit a significant increase in E4bp4 expression, and that this in turn brings about an expansion of NK ceils, resulting in an increase in NK cell number (see PCT/GB2018/050542, particularly the examples, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety). Inhibition of REV-ERB activity can bring about an increase in NK ceil number, and that typically the resulting NK ceils are (fully) functional as defined herein. The effect of REV-ERB inhibition is mediated in an E4pb4-dependent manner. Without wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that inhibition of REV-ERB activity results in an increase in E4bp4 expression (E4bp4 expression is normally repressed by REV-ERB), and that the E4bp4 acts to stimulate the production of NK cells (as shown in Figure 1). in particular, the present inventors have previously demonstrated that the small molecule SR8278 is capable of binding to the porphyrin heme moiety of REV-ERB, resulting in inhibition of REV-ERB activity and an increase in NK ceil number.

However, the pharmacological profile of SR8278 is such that it is not ideal for use in a clinical setting. Furthermore, the lack of information on the mechanism of action of SR8278 and the lack of suitable structure-activity relationships surrounding this molecule has hindered the discovery of other compounds with REV-ERB inhibitory activity. Indeed, although many synthetic ligands for REV ERB have been generated in the art, the vast majority of these have been identified as agonists, with over 300 REV-ERB agonists identified. The present inventors have generated a library of novel compounds , and have demonstrated that such compounds possess improved REV-ERB inhibitory activity compared with one known REV-ERB inhibitor, SR8278.

Accordingly, the present invention is concerned with such improved REV-ERB antagonists, i.e. compounds with improved inhibitory activity against the action of REV-ERB, and the use of such compounds in increasing E4bp4 expression, and hence NK cell number.

Inhibition of REV-ERB activity

The present invention relates to the use of compounds to inhibit the action of REV-ERB, i.e. compounds which inhibit REV-ERB activity. REV-REB activity may be inhibited by any appropriate means. Suitable standard techniques are known in the art. Inhibition may take place via any suitable mechanism, depending for example on the nature (see below) of the compound used, e.g. steric interference in any direct or indirect interaction or inhibition of REV-ERB. In the context of the present invention a REV-ERB inhibitor (interchangeably referred to herein as a REV-ERB antagonist) is any compound which inhibits, decreases, suppresses or ablates the action of REV-ERB, whether in part or completely.

A decrease in REV-ERB activity may be measured relative to a control. Thus, the activity of REV-ERB in a sample of IMK precursor or progenitor cells, an expanded NK ceil population or in a sample obtained from a patient to be treated according to the invention may be compared with the activity of REV-ERB in a control. Activity may be quantified in any appropriate terms, for example binding of REV-ERB to the E4bp4 gene, or in terms of E4bp4 expression as defined herein. Any appropriate technique or method may be used for quantifying REV-ERB activity. Suitable techniques are known in the art, for example luciferase assays for quantifying expression of a reporter gene.

Typically the control is an equivalent population or sample in which no REV-ERB inhibitory compound has been added, for example a sample obtained from a different individual to which the compound has not been administered, or the same individual the prior to administration of the compound. Conventional methods for the ex vivo expansion of NK cells, including known methods may be considered control methods according to the present invention.

In the context of the present invention, a reference to inhibiting REV-ERB activity may be understood to mean that, the activity of REV-ERB is decreased by at least 10%, at least 20%, at least 30%, at least 40%, at least 50%, at least 60%, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 91%, at least 92%, at least 93%, at least 94%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98%, at least 99%, up to total (100%) inhibition of REV-ERB activity, as compared with the control. Typically REV-ERB activity is decreased by at least 50%, preferably at least 70?4, more preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, even more preferably at least 95% or more compared with the control.

The activity of REV-ERB may be determined by quantitative and/or qualitative analysis, and may be measured directly or indirectly.

The activity of REV-ERB relative to a control may be determined using any appropriate technique. Suitable standard techniques are known in the art, such as by quantifying E4bp4 expression, and/or luciferase assays.

The activity of REV-ERB may be inhibited compared with a control for at least 6 hours, at least 12 hours, at least 24 hours, at least 30 hours, at least 36 hours, at least 42 hours, at least 48 hours, at least 54 hours, at least 60 hours, at least 72 hours, at least 4 days, at least 5 days, at least 6 days, at least 1 week. Preferably, the activity of REV-ERB is decreased for at least 12 to 72 hours. Typically this is assessed relative to the last administration of the compound which inhibits REV-ERB activity.

The activity of REV-ERB may be inhibited compared with a control for at least one, at least two, at least three, at least four, at least five, at least ten, at least 20, at least 30, at least 40 or more passages of the cells (either in vivo, or cultured ex vivo or in vitro). The activity of REV-ERB may be inhibited and/or the expression level of the E4bp4 gene and/or protein may be altered indefinitely.

In the context of the present invention any reference to inhibiting REV-ERB activity may be understood to mean inhibiting the activity of REV-ERBa and/or REV-ERBp. In preferred embodiments, the activity of both REV-ERBa and REV-ERBP is inhibited. Thus, the invention relates to compounds which inhibit REV-ERB activity, including compounds which inhibit REV-ERBa activity (i.e. REV-ERBa inhibitors, also referred to as REV-ERBa antagonists) and/or to compounds which inhibit REV-EBBb activity (i.e. REV-ERB inhibitors, also referred to as REV-E Bb antagonists). In preferred embodiments, the invention relates to compounds which inhibit the activity of both REV-ERBa and REV-EBBb (i.e. REV-ERBa and REV-EBBb inhibitors, also referred to as REV-ERBa and REV-ERB antagonists).

REV-ERB antagonists/inhibitors

REV-ERB inhibitory compounds of the invention may be specific for REV-ERB. By specific, it will be understood that the compound binds to REV-ERBa and/or REV-EBBb, with no significant cross-reactivity to any other molecule, particularly any other protein. For example, modulator that is specific for REV-ERBa and/or REV-ERB will show no significant cross-reactivity with human neutrophil elastase. Cross-reactivity may be assessed by any suitable method. Cross-reactivity of REV-ERBa and/or REV-ERB inhibitor with a molecule other than REV-ERBa and/or REV-EBBb may be considered significant if the inhibitor binds to the other molecule at least 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%,

30%, 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90% or 100% as strongly as it binds

to REV-ERBa and/or REV-ERBfl An inhibitor that is specific for REV-ERBa and/or REV-ERBp may bind to another molecule such as human neutrophil elastase at less than 90%, 85%, 80%, 75%, 70%, 65%, 60%, 55%, 50%, 45%, 40%, 35%, 30%, 25% or 20% the strength that it binds to REV-ERBa and/or REV-ERB . Preferably, the inhibitor binds to the other molecule at less than 20%, less than 15%, less than 10% or less than 5%, less than 2% or less than 1% the strength that it binds to REV-ERBa and/or REV-ERB .

REV-ERB inhibitory compounds of the invention may have off-target effects. An off-target effect is activity against a target other than REV-ERB. Typically compounds with off-target effects are encompassed by the present invention if the activity against the non-REV-ERB target is not significant compared with the activity against REV-ERB. Whether an off target effect is significant may depend on the intended use of the compound. As a non-limiting example, a compound which may exert an off-target effect on the central nervous system would not be significant for a compound used in an ex vivo method as disclosed herein, but may be significant (depending on the magnitude of the off-target effect) for an in vivo therapeutic indication as disclosed herein. The presence and magnitude of any potential off target effects can be readily assessed using standard methods known in the art.

Small molecules

The compounds of the invention used to inhibit REV-ERB activity as described herein are small molecules. As defined herein, small molecules are low molecular weight compounds, typically organic compounds. Typically, a small molecule has a maximum molecule weight of 900 Da, allowing for rapid diffusion across cell membranes in some embodiments, the maximum molecular weight of a small molecule is 500 Da. Typically a small molecule has a size in the order of lnm.

According to the present invention, small molecules may be able to exert an inhibitory effect on REV-ERB activity by binding to the porphyrin heme moiety of REV-ERB. Thus in some preferred embodiments, a compound that inhibits the action of REV-ERB according to the present invention is a compound which binds to the porphyrin heme moiety of REV-ERB, and hence inhibits the activity of REV-ERB. Alternatively, the small molecule may act via a different mechanism, for example, by binding to a non-heme portion of REV-ERB. Standard techniques are known in the art for the production of small molecules, which can then readily be tested for REV-ERB inhibitory activity as described herein


Structure of porphyrin heme

The inventors have generated new compounds that inhibit REV-ERB activity (referred to interchangeably herein as inhibiting the action of REV -ERB) based on the scaffold of SR8278, particularly by varying the amide substituent and/or the ethyl ester group. Accordingly the compounds used in the present invention have formula (I):


where: represents bonds that are all either present or absent;

R1 is selected from C .g hydrocarbyi, and is optionally substituted with one or more groups independently selected from C1 hydrocarbyi, -OR', -OC(0)R', -C(0)OR', -SR', -S(0)R', -S{0)2R', -NR'2, -NR'C(0)R', -C(0)NR'2, -CN, -N02, -Ph, -CF3 and halogen;

R2 is selected from 5-10 membered heterocyclyi rings and .K hydrocarbyi, and is optionally substituted with one or more groups independently selected from C14 hydrocarbyi, -OR', -GC{0)R', -C(0)OR', -SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -NR'2, -NR'C(0)R', -C(0)N R'2J -CN, -N02, -Ph, -CF3 and halogen;

X is selected from -O- and NR' or is absent;

Y is selected from -C(Q)- and -CR'2-;

2 is selected from -O- and -NR'- or is absent;

each Ra is independently selected from H, Ci_4 hydrocarbyl, -OR', -0C(0)R', -C(0)0R', -SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -NR' 2, -NR'C(0)R', -C{0)NR'2, -CN, -N02, -Ph, -CF3 and halogen;

each RD is independently selected from H, C .4 hydrocarbyl and -OR';

Rc is selected from H and Ci.4 hydrocarbyl; and

each R' is independently selected from H, Ci 4 hydrocarbyl and -Ph;

or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof, provided that the compound is not:


As described above, - represents bonds that are ail either present or absent.

Accordingly, the present invention relates to both closed ring structures of formula (la) and open ring structures of formula fib):

Preferably, - represents bonds that are all present and the compound Is a dosed ring structure of formula (la).

In compounds of formula (I), R1 is selected from Ci.6 hydrocarbyl, and is optionally substituted with one or more groups independently selected from Ci.4 hydrocarbyl (preferably Ci_4 alkyl), -OR', -OC(0)R', -C(0)OR', -SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -NR'2, -NR'C(0)R', -C(0)NR'2, -CM, -N02/ -Ph, -CF3 and halogen. R1 is preferably unsubstituted and, as such, is preferably selected from Ci.6 hydrocarbyl, preferably from Ci-6 alkyl and Ci.6 alkenyl. More preferably, R1 is selected from Ci-6 alkyl, preferably from Ci.4 alkyl, such as from methyl, ethyl and propyl. Ethyl groups are particularly preferred.

In compounds of formula (I), R2 is selected from 5-10 membered heterocydyl rings and .g hydrocarbyl, and is optionally substituted. Preferably, R^ is selected from optionally substituted 5-10 membered heterocydyl rings.

The 5-10 membered heterocydyl ring of R2 preferably contains one to four, and more preferably one or two, heteroatoms. The heteroatoms are preferably selected from oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur. It will be appreciated that a heterocydyl ring may comprise multiple of the same heteroatom, e.g. two nitrogen atoms, or a mixture of heteroatoms, e.g. a nitrogen atom and an oxygen atom.

R2 is preferably selected from 5-10 membered heteroaryl rings, and more preferably from 5-, 6- or 9-membered heteroary! rings. Mon-limiting examples of 5-membered heteroaryl rings include furanyl, thiophenyl, oxazolyl, isooxazolyl, isothiazolyl, thiazolyl, pyrazolyl, imidazolyl, pyrrolyl and triazolyl. Mon-limiting examples of 6-membered heteroaryl rings include pyridinyl, pyridazinyl, pyrimidinyf and pyrazinyl. Mon-limiting examples of 9-membered heteroaryl rings include indolyl, isoindolyl, indazolyl, benzimidazolyl, azaindoly!, benzofuranyl, isobenzofuranyl, benzisoxazolyl and benzoxazoiyl. Optionally substituted 5-membered heteroary! rings are particularly preferred.

Where R2 is optionally substituted C1-6 hydrocarbyl, it is preferably selected from optionally substituted phenyl and optionally substituted Ci.6 alkyl.

Where R2 is optionally substituted phenyl, the phenyl group is preferably substituted.

Where R2 is optionally substituted Ci_6 alkyl, the alkyl group is preferably unsubstituted, and as such R2 is preferably selected from C2.4 alkyl, such as from ethyl, propyl (e.g. -iPr) and butyl (e.g. -tBu).

R2 is optionally substituted with one or more groups independently selected from Ci.4 hydrocarbyl (preferably C1-4 alkyl), -OR', -OC{0)R', -C(0)OR', -SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -NR'2, -NR'C(0)R', -C(0)NR'2, -CM, -N02/ -Ph, -CF3 and halogen. Preferably, R is unsubstituted or substituted with one

or two of these groups. Particularly preferred substituents for R2 include -Me, -OMe, -CN, ~N02, -F, -C!, -1 and SMe.

In compounds of formula (I), X is selected from -O- and -MR'- or is absent. X is preferably -0-.

In compounds of formula (I), Y is selected from -C(O)- and -CRV. Y is preferably -C(O)-.

In compounds of formula (I), Z is selected from -O- and -MR'- or is absent. Preferably, Z is selected from -O- or is absent. Where R2 is an alkyl group, Z is preferably selected -O- and -MR1- and preferably is -0-. Where R2 is a heterocydy! ring, Z is preferably absent.

In compounds of formula (I), each Ra is independently selected from H, Ci.4 hydrocarbyl (preferably 1A alkyl), -OR', -0C(0)R', -C(0)0R', -SR', -S(0)R', -S(0)2R', -MR'2, -NR'C(0)R', -C(0)NR'2, -CM, -NQ , -Ph, -CF3 and halogen. Preferably, each Ra is independently selected from H, C1-4 alkyl and -OR', and more preferably from H and Ci-4 alkyl. More preferably, each Ra is preferably H.

In compounds of formula (I), each Rb is independently selected from H, Ci-4 hydrocarbyl (preferably Ci-4 alkyl) and -OR'. Preferably, each Rb is independently selected from H and C .4 alkyl, and more preferably is H.

In compounds of formula (I), Rc is selected from H and Ci_4 hydrocarbyl (preferably Ci-4 alkyl). Preferably, Rc is H.

In compounds of formula (I), each R' is independently selected from H and C1-4 hydrocarbyl (preferably C1-4 alkyl) and -Ph. Preferably, each R' is independently selected from H and C1-4 alkyl, more preferably from H, methyl and ethyl, and more preferably from methyl and ethyl.

In preferred embodiments, Rb and Rc are all H, and so the compounds used in the present invention have the formula (11):


where R1, R2, Ra and X, Y and Z are as defined previously.

In further preferred embodiments, Ra are also all H, and so the compounds used in the present invention have the formula (III):

where R1, R , X, Y and Z are as defined previously.

In further preferred embodiments, X is -O- and the compounds used in the present invention have the formula (IV):


where R1, R2, Y and Z are as defined previously.

In further preferred embodiments, Y is -C(Q)- and the compounds used in the present invention have the formula (V):


where R1, R2 and Z are as defined previously.

Still further preferred are compounds in which R! is ethyl, which have the formula (VI):

where R2 and Z are as defined previously.

For instance, the compound may be a closed ring structure and have the formula (VII):


where R2 and Z are as defined previously.

Specific examples of compounds according to the present invention are set out in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Exemplary compounds of the invention

Compounds 7, 11, 27, 72 and 73 are preferred.

Compounds 7 and 11 are particularly preferred:
(compound 11).

The compound of formula (I) is not SR8278, i.e. is not:


In some embodiments, the compound of formula (I) is also not disclosed in either WO 2013/033310 or WO 2015/103527. For instance, in relation to compounds per se of the present invention, the compound of formula (I) is not selected from:



In some embodiments, and in relation to compounds per se of the present invention, the compound of formula (I) is not:


Although the compounds per se identified above are not products of the present invention. These compounds may nevertheless be used in the methods and medical uses/therapeutic indications described herein.

It will be understood that when compounds of the present invention contain one or more chiral centres, the compounds may exist in, and may be isolated as pure enantiomeric or diastereomeric forms or as racemic mixtures. The present invention therefore includes any possible enantiomers, diastereomers, racemates or mixtures thereof of the compounds of the invention. Thus, compounds of formula (I) may be used in a racemic mixture, or as single enantiomers, i.e.i

The compounds of formula (I) may have rotameric forms, or may not have rotational activity. Rotameric forms include slow rotating forms and fast rotating forms. In some preferred embodiments, fast rotating forms of the compounds of formula (I) are preferred. For example,


A compound of the formula (I) or a salt thereof may exhibit the phenomenon of tautomerism whereby two chemical compounds that are capable of facile interconversion by exchanging a hydrogen atom between two atoms, to either of which it forms a covalent bond. Since the tautomeric compounds exist in mobile equilibrium with each other they may be regarded as different isomeric forms of the same compound. It is to be understood that the formulae drawings within this specification can represent only one of the possible tautomeric forms. However, it is also to be understood that the invention encompasses any tautomeric form, and is not to be limited merely to any one tautomeric form utilized within the formulae drawings. The formulae drawings within this specification can represent only one of the possible tautomeric forms and it is to be understood that the specification encompasses all possible tautomeric forms of the compounds drawn not just those forms which it has been convenient to show graphically herein. Thus, compounds of formula (I) according to the invention encompass tautomers (including keto-enol and amide-imidic acid forms).

Accordingly, a structure depicted herein as one tautomer is intended to also include the other tautomer.

Compounds may be used in the form of pro-drugs which convert into compounds of formula (I) in the body, as well as in salt, hydrate and solvate forms, as defined in the Definitions section herein.

The compounds of the present invention typically have improved REV-ERB inhibitory activity compared with SR8278. This inhibitory activity may be measured by any appropriate means, such as conventional means known in the art and/or the methods described herein. In the context of the present invention, a reference to a compound with improved REV-ERB inhibitory activity may be understood to mean that, the compound decreases REV-ERB activity by at least 10%, at least 20%, at least 30%, at least 40%, at least 50%, at least 60, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 95%, at least 100%, at least 150%, at least 200% more than the decrease in REV-ERB activity obtained using a control REV-ERB inhibitory compound, such as SR8278. Typically REV-ERB activity is decreased by at least 40%, at least 50%, preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80%, even more preferably at least 90% or more compared with the decrease in REV-ERB activity obtained using a control REV-ERB inhibitory compound, such as SR8278.

A reference to a compound with improved REV-ERB inhibitory activity may be understood to mean that, said compound is at least 1.5-fold, at least 2-fold, at least 2.1-fo!d, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2.4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fo!d, at least 2.7-foid, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-fold, at least 4-fold, at least 5-fold, at least 6-fold, at least 7-fold, at least 8-fo!d, at least 9-fold, at least 10-fold or more, more effective in inhibiting REV-ERB activity relative to a control REV-ERB inhibitory compound, such as SR8278. in other words, that the inhibition of REV ERB by the improved REV-ERB antagonist is at least 1.5-fold, at least 2-fold, at least 2.1-fold, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-foid, at least 2.4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fold, at least 2.7-foid, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-foid, at least 4-fold or at least 5-foid or more greater than the inhibition in REV-ERB activity by a control REV-ERB inhibitory compound, such as SR82.78. Typically an improved REV-ERB inhibitory compound is at least 1.5-fold, at least 2-fold or more effective in inhibiting REV-ERB activity relative to a control REV-ERB inhibitory compound, such as SR8278.

The small molecules of the invention may be used in the form of proteolysis targeting chimeras (also referred to as PROTACs or PROTAC reagents). PROTACs are heterobifunctional small molecules that simultaneously bind a target protein and uhiquitin ligase, enabling ubiquitination and degradation of the target, in more detail, a PROTAC reagent typically comprises a ligand for the target protein (in the case of the present invention, REV-ERB) and a ligand for an E3 ligase recognition domain. Through the use of such a PROTAC, an E3 ligase is recruited to the PROTAC -bound REV-ERB, inducing ubiquitin transfer from the E3 ligase complex to the target protein (in the

case of the present invention, REV-ERB) Once the PROTAC has induced a sufficient degree of ubiquitination of the target, it is then recognised and degraded by the proteasome.

As a non-!imiting example, a PROTAC reagent may be produced by conjugating a ligand for an E3-ligase to a small molecule inhibitor as described herein via a linker. In a preferred embodiment, a PROTAC reagent comprises a ligand for the E3 RING Cullin ligase von-Hippe! Lindau protein (VHL) or cereblon - a part of a CRL4 E3 RING Cullin ligase complex, connected to a small molecule inhibitor of the invention via a linker.

Variant Sequences

A sequence identity of at least 80% includes at least 82%, at least 84%, at least 86%, at least 88%, at least 90%, at least 91%, at least 92%, at least 93%, at least 94%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98%, at least 99%, and 100% sequence identi ty (to each and every sequence presented herein and/ or to each and every SEQ ID NO presented herein).

Any of a variety of sequence alignment methods can be used to determine percent identity, including, without limitation, global methods, local methods and hybrid methods, such as, e.g., segment approach methods. Protocols to determine percent identity are routine procedures within the scope of one skilled in the. Global methods align sequences from the beginning to the end of the molecule and determine the best alignment by adding up scores of individual residue pairs and by imposing gap penalties. Non-limiting methods include, e.g., CLUSTAL W, see, e.g., Julie D. Thompson et al., CLUSTAL W: Improving the Sensitivity of Progressive Multiple Sequence Alignment Through Sequence Weighting, Position- Specific Gap Penalties and Weight Matrix Choice, 22 (22) Nucleic Acids Research 4673-4680 (1994); and iterative refinement, see, e.g., Osamu Gotoh, Significant Improvement in Accuracy of Multiple Protein. Sequence Alignments by Iterative Refinement as Assessed by Reference to Structural Alignments, 264(4) J. Mol. Biol. 823-838 (1996). Local methods align sequences by identifying one or more conserved motifs shared by all of the input sequences. Non-limiting methods include, e.g., Match-box, see, e.g , Eric Depiereux and Ernest Feytmans, Match-Box: A Fundamentally New Algorithm for the Simultaneous Alignment of Several Protein Sequences, 8(5) CABIOS 501 -509 (1992); Gibbs sampling, see, e.g., C. E. Lawrence et al., Detecting Subtle Sequence Signals: A Gibbs Sampling Strategy for Multiple Alignment, 262 (5131 ) Science 208-214 (1993); Align-M, see, e.g , Ivo Van Walle et al., Align-M - A New Algorithm for Multiple Alignment of Highly Divergent Sequences, 2.0 (9) Bioinformatics:1428-1435 (2004) Thus, percent sequence identity is determined by conventional methods. See, for example, Altschul et al., Bull. Math. Bio. 48: 603-16, 1986 and Henikoff and Henikoff, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:10915-19, 1992.

Variants of the specific sequences provided above may alternatively be defined by reciting the number of nucleotides or amino acids that differ between the variant sequences and the specific reference sequences provided above. Thus, in one embodiment, the sequence may comprise (or consist of) a nucleotide sequence that differs from the specific sequences provided above at no more than 5, no more than 4, no more than 3, no more than 2 nucleotide positions, for example at no more than 1 nucleotide position. Conservative substitutions are preferred.

Variant nucleic acid molecules and peptides as described herein typically still retain the activity of the corresponding molecules. Thus, for example, the variant REV-ERB molecules of the invention retain the ability of wild-type REV-ERB to inhibit the expression of E4bp4. The variant molecules may retain at least 50%, at least 60%, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 90%, up to and including 100% of the activity of the corresponding wild-type sequences. This applies equally to any other variants as described herein.

The compounds of the invention may be labelled (or tagged). Any appropriate label may be used. Suitable labels are known in the art.

Notch ligand

The Notch signalling pathway is primarily associated with promoting T ceil development and repressing concomitant B cell development. Mammals have four types of Notch receptor - Notchl, NotchZ, Notch3 and Notch4, all of which are single-pass heterodimeric transmembrane protein. Mammals have two types of canonical Notch ligands - Delta type and Jagged type, collectively known as DSL ligands. There are three delta-like ligands (DLLs), DLL1, DLL3 and DLL4 and two jagged (JAG) ligands, JAG1 and JAG2. DLL and JAG ligands typically comprise the following domains: a module at the N-terminus of Notch ligand (MNNL) domain and a Deita/Serrate/Lag-2 (DSL) domain, together with a number of EGF repeats. DLL3 comprises six EGF repeats, DS.L.1 and DLL4 comprise eight EGF repeats. JAG1 and JAG2. comprise 16 EGF repeats. There are also numerous non-canonical ligands, which may be membrane-bound or secreted.

Unless explicitly stated herein, a reference herein to a Notch ligand is a reference to any Notch ligand, such as a ligand of Notchl, Notch2, Notch.3 and/or Notch 4, preferably a ligand of at least Notchl. The protein sequence of human Notchl is given in SEQ ID NO: 10 (GenBank Accession No. CR457221, version CR457221.1). Typically the Notch ligand of use in the present invention is a canonical Notch ligand. In some preferred embodiments, the Notch ligand is a DLL, more preferably DLL4. The protein sequence of human DLL4 is given in SEQ ID NO: 8 (GenBank Accession No. AF253468, version AF253468.1).

A reference herein to a Notch ligand also embraces fragments thereof, provided said fragment retains the Notch-binding and activatory activity of the Notch ligand from which it is derived. Fragments of Notch ligands suitable for use in the present invention have previously been described by the present inventors (see PCT/GB2018/050818, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety, particularly pages 15 and 16 and the Examples). Preferred examples of Notch ligand fragments include Notch ligand (N-EGF1) and Notch ligand (N-EGF2), such as DLL4 (N-EGF1) and DLL4 (N-EGF2).

Alternatively or in addition, a Notch ligand, fragment thereof, or molecule that mimics the effect (e.g. function/activity) of a Notch ligand, such as DLL4 may comprise modifications, such as amino add mutations which alter, typically increase, the affinity of the ligand/fragment/mimetic for its Notch receptor. Techniques for identifying such modifications are known in the art. For example, amino acids which increase the affinity of a Notch ligand/fragment/mimetic can be identified using yeast surface display. Again, such modifications have previously been described by the present inventors (see PCT/GB2018/050818, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety, particularly page 16). In some preferred embodiments, the DLL4 ligand of the invention, a fragment or mimetic thereof comprises the amino acid substitutions, G28S, F107L and L206P, more preferably G28S, F107L, N118I, I143F, H194Y, L206P and/or K215E.

As a further non-limiting example, a functional fragment of DLL4 comprises at least residues 65 to 114 and 179 to 219 of full-length DLL4, preferably held in the correct conformation to allow interaction with the Notch ligand.

In addition, the invention encompasses the use of molecules that would mimic the effect (e.g. activity/function) of a Notch ligand (also referred to herein as imetics). For example, the use of peptides, stapled peptides, peptoids and peptidomi etics that would mimic the effect of the desired Notch ligand (such as DLL4) is embraced by the present invention. Peptidomimetics may have advantages over peptides in terms of stability and bioavailability associated with a natural peptide. Peptidomimetics can have main- or side-chain modifications of the parent peptide designed for biological function. Examples of classes of peptidomimetics include, but are not limited to, peptoids and b-peptides, as well as peptides incorporating D-amino acids.

Methods for producing synthetic peptides and peptidomimetics (such as peptoids) are known in the art, as are the sequences of canonical and non-canonical Notch ligands. Thus, it would be routine for one of skill in the art to produce suitable molecules which mimic the effect of a desired Notch ligand using known techniques and based on the known Notch ligand sequences. As a non-limiting example, peptidomimetics may be designed to interact with key residues of Notch (e.g. Notchl) that are known to be involved in binding to DLL4, such as one or more of residues 415

(E415), 418 (L418), 420 (A42Q), 421 (N421), 422 (P42.2), 424 (E424), 425 (H425), 436 (F436), 447 (P447), 448 (R448), 450 (E450), 452 (D452), 469 (D469), 477 (1477), 480 (P480) of Notch (Notchl), or any combination thereof.

The methods of the invention may encompass the use of any Notch ligand or fragment thereof which is capable of increasing NK ceil production or molecule which mimics the effects thereof, particularly which may act synergisticaliy with a compound of the invention which inhibits REV-ERB activity as disclosed herein, or a compound which results in the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4, and hence an increase in E4bp4 activity as disclosed herein.

The present inventors have previously shown that E4bp4 directly binds to the regulatory region of the Notchl gene in vivo and so could enhance the transcriptional regulation of Notch, and that Notchl expression E4bp4 / mice is significantly reduced. Following on from this, the present inventors found that short-term exposure of Notch ligands to murine HSCs and very early progenitors can promote NK cell development, even in the absence of the critical transcription factor E4bp4. Further, the present inventors have shown that the Notch ligand Delta-like ligand 4 (DLL4) is particularly effective in stimulating the expansion of NK cells.

Accordingly, the present invention relates to the expansion of NK cells by exposure of the HPCs to a Notch ligand in combination with the use of a compound which inhibits the action of REV ERB as described herein, in ex vivo or in vitro methods of the invention, this can comprise a step of culturing the HPCs in the presence of a Notch ligand. For in vivo methods, this may comprise administering the compound together with a Notch ligand. In preferred embodiments, the Notch ligand is DLL4, or a fragment or variant thereof which retains the function of DLL4.

Variant sequences are described herein in relation to REV-ERB. That disclosure applies, inter alia, equally and independently to variants of Notch ligands and fragments/mimetics thereof. The variant Notch ligands/fragments/mimetics of the invention typically at least retain the activity of the corresponding Notch ligands/fragments/mimetics of the invention. Thus, for example, the variant DLL4 ligands or fragments thereof of the invention retain the ability of the corresponding DLL4 molecules to bind to Notchl, and/or to enhance NK cell production. In some embodiments, the variant DLL4 ligands/fragments/mimetics have greater activity than the corresponding unmodified DS.L4 ligand/fragment/mimetic. Such variants have previously been described by the present inventors (see PCT/GB2018/050818, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety, particularly pages 17 and 18). By way of non-limiting example, a Notch ligand/fragment/mimetic/variant thereof (e.g., a DLL4 ligands/fragments/mimetics/variant thereof) may have a KD value for binding to Notchl of less than ImM, less than 900 nM, less than 800 nM, less than 700 nM, less than 6Q0nM, less than 500nM, less than 4QQnM, less than 300nM, less than

200n M, less than lOOnM, less than 90nM, less than 80nM, less than 70n , less than 60nM, less than 50nM or less, preferably less than 50QnM, less than 400nM, less than 300nM or less. In some embodiments, a variant Notch ligand/fragment/mimetic (e.g., a variant DLL4 ligands/fragments/mimetics) can increase the number of NK ceils, or give rise to an increase in IMK ceil production, of at least 1.5 fold, at least 1.6 fold, at least 1.7 fold, at least 1.8 fold, at least 1.9 fold, at least 2 fold, at least 2.1 fold, at least 2.2 fold, at least 2.3 fold, at least 2.4 fold, at least 2.5 fold, at least 3 fold or more relative to the corresponding unmodified Notch ligand/fragment/mimetic. The variant Notch ligand/fragment/mimetic (e.g., variant DLL4 ligands/fragments/mimetics) may increase number of NK cells by at least 10%, at least 20%, at least 30%, at least 40%, at least 50%, at least 60, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 95%, at least 100%, at least 150%, at least 200%, at least 300% or more compared with the corresponding unmodified DLL4 ligand/fragment/mimetic.

The Notch ligands/fragments/mimetics of the invention may be labelled (or tagged). Any appropriate label may be used. Suitable labels are known in the art.

Post-translational modification of E4bp4

The present inventors have previously shown that alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4 can increase E4bp4 activity (see PCT/GB2018/050818, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety, particularly pages 33 to 36 and Examples 1 to 5). Furthermore, increasing E4bp4 activity by alteration of post-translational modification results in an increase in NK cell number (as defined herein).

Accordingly, methods of the present invention may further comprises a step of contacting an haematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) comprising sample obtained from an individual/patient with a compound which results in the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4, thereby causing an increase in E4bp4 activity. Thus, compounds which alter the post-translational modification of E4ph4 as described herein may be used in combination with the methods and compounds of the invention which inhibit REV-ERB activity. This combination may further be used in combination with the use of a Notch ligand (e.g. DLL4) as described herein.

Similarly, a compound which alters or affects the post-trans!ational modification of E4bp4 may therefore be used according to the invention for increasing production of NK cells in a patient, wherein said compound increases E4hp4 activity, or for use in a method of treatment by increasing the number of NK cells in a patient in need thereof, together with the indications disclosed herein relating to increased E4bp4 expression by decreasing REV-ERB activity, and optionally the indications

disclosed herein relating to increasing NK cell number by culturing HPCs in the presence of a Notch ligand.

Any of the disclosure herein in relation to methods of increasing NK cell number, methods of expanding NK cells in the context of compounds which inhibit the action of REV-ERB, and/or Notch ligands, expanded NK ceil populations produced by said methods and therapeutic indications relating to said compounds and populations applies inter alia to the disclosed methods of increasing E4bp4 activity to increase NK ceil number. As non-limiting examples, the feeder cell layers, growth factors and/or other culture conditions and diseases to be treated may be the same in relation to the post-translational modification aspects as for the REV-ERB inhibition and/or Notch ligand aspects disclosed herein. The REV-ERB inhibitor compound, Notch ligand and/or E4bp4 post-translational modifier may be used simultaneously, separately or sequentially. When a compound which alters the post-translational modification of E4bp4 is used in combination with a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB, typically the sample is contacted with REV-ERB inhibitory compound before being contacted with the post-translational modifier. If a Notch ligand is also used, typically the E4bp4 post-translational modifier is used after the REV-ERB inhibitory compound and the Notch ligand; preferably the REV-ERB inhibitory compound are used together, or more preferably the REV ERB inhibitory compound is used before the Notch ligand (as described herein).

Types of post-tronslational modification

Said method encompasses any alteration of post-translational modification which results in an increase in E4bp4 activity. Non-limiting examples of post-translation modification include phosphorylation, SUMOyiation, the addition of a hydrophobic group (e.g. myristoylation, pa!mitoylation), addition of a cofactor, the addition of small chemical groups (e.g. acylation, alkylation, amidation, glycosylation), glycation, carbamylation, cabonylation, chemical modifications (e.g. deamidation) and/or structural changes. Typically alteration of post-transiationai modification according to the invention results in a reduction in phosphorylation at one or more phosphorylation site within wild-type (unmodified) E4hp4 and/or a reduction in SUMOyiation at one or more SUMOyiation site within wild-type (unmodified) E4bp4, or a combination thereof. As previously shown by the inventors (see PCT/GB2Q18/050818, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety, particularly pages 33 to 36 and Examples 1 to 5), wild-type (unmodified) E4bp4 is typically SUMOylated at one or more of residues K10, K116, K219, K337 and/or K394 or residues corresponding thereto, or any combination thereof. Typically wild-type (unmodified) E4bp4 is SUMOylated at least at residue K219 (or a corresponding residue). Alternatively or in addition, wild-type (unmodified) E4bp4 is typically phosphoryiated at residues S286, S301 and S454, or residues corresponding thereto, or any combination thereof. Accordingly, in some embodiments, a compound which alters the post-translational modification of E4bp4 reduces, inhibits or ablates SUMOylation at residue K219 (or a residue corresponding thereto), and/or reduces, inhibits or ablates phosphorylation at residues S286, S301 and S454 (or corresponding residues), or any combination thereof. Thus, according to the present invention, a compound may be used to (a) reduce SUMOylation at one or more of residues K10, K116, K219, K337 and/or K394 of E4bp4, or a residue corresponding thereto, or any combination thereof; and/or reduce phosphorylation at one or more of residues S286, S301 and/or S454, or a residue corresponding thereto, or any combination thereof.

Any compound which is capable of altering or affecting the post-transiationai modification of E4bp4, wherein said alteration increases the activity of E4bp4 may be used according to the present invention. In some embodiments, said compound inhibits, reduces or ablates the phosphorylation and/or SUMOylation that occurs in wild-type (unmodified) E4bp4. Any appropriate kinase inhibitor may be used to inhibit, reduce or ablate phosphorylation of E4bp4. Suitable kinase inhibitors are known in the art and their selection would be routine to one of skill in the art. For example, based on current understanding of kinases which phosphoryiate E4bp4, it may be appropriate to use inhibitors of phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1) and/or casein kinase lepsilon (CKlepsilon). Non-limiting examples of suitable kinase inhibitors include 4-{4-(2,3-Dihydrobenzo[l,4]dioxin-6-yl)-5-pyridin-2-yl-lH-imidazol-2-yi)benzamide (D4476) and 4, 5,6,7-Tetrabromo-2-azabenzimidazole, 4,5,6,7-Tetrabromobenzotriazoie (TBB).

increase in E4bp4 activity'

An increase in E4bp4 activity (e.g. as brought about by post-translational modification of E4bp4) may be measured relative to a control. Thus, the activity of E4bp4 in a sample of NK precursor or progenitor cells, an expanded NK ceil population or in a sample obtained from an individual/patient to be treated according to the invention may be compared with the activity of E4bp4 in a control. Activity may be quantified in any appropriate terms, for example an increase in the expression of any downstream target of E4bp4. Any appropriate technique or method may be used for quantifying E4bp4 activity. Suitable techniques are known in the art, for example luciferase assays for quantifying expression of a reporter gene.

Typically the control is an equivalent population or sample which has not been treated according to the present invention. For example, in instances where a compound is used to alter or affect the post-translational modification of E4bp4, the corresponding control may be a population or sample in which no compound has been added to alter or affect the post-translational

modification of E4bp4. As another example, in instances where a compound is used to inhibit the action of REV-ERB, the corresponding control may be a population or sample in which no compound has been added to inhibit the action of REV-ERB. As another example, in instances where a compound is used to inhibit the action of REV-ERB and a compound is used to alter or effect the post-transiationai modification of E4bp4, the corresponding control may be a population or sample in which no compound has been added to inhibit the action of REV-ERB or to alter or effect the post-translational modification of E4bp4.

A control may be a sample obtained from a different individual treated according to the invention, or the same individual the prior to treatment. Conventional methods for the ex vivo expansion of NK cells, including known methods may be considered control methods according to the present invention.

In the context of the present invention, a reference to increasing E4bp4 activity may be understood to mean that, the activity of E4bp4 is increased by at least 1.5-fold, at least 2 -fold, at least 2.1-fold, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2.4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fold, at least 2.7-fold, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-fold, at least 4-fold, at least 5-fold, at least

6-fold, at least 7-fold, at least 8-fold, at least 9-fold, at least 10-fold or more relative to a control. Typically E4bp4 activity is increased by at least 2-fold, at least 2.1-fold, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2.4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fold, at least 2.7-fold, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-fold, or more compared with the control. E4bp4 activity may be measured indirectly be determining the increase in NK cell number. Thus, the number of NK ceils may be increased by at least 1.5-fold, at least 2-fold, at least 2.1-fold, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2.4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fold, at least 2.7-fold, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-fold, at least 4-fold, at least 5-fold, at least 6-fold, at least 7-fold, at least 8-fold, at least 9-fold, at least 10-fold or more relative to a control. Typically the number of NK cells is increased by at least 2-fold, at least 2 1-fold, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2.4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fold, at least 2.7-fold, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-fold, or more compared with the control.

The activity of E4bp4 may be determined by quantitative and/or qualitative analysis, and may be measured directly or indirectly. The activity of E4bp4 relative to a control may be determined using any appropriate technique. Suitable standard techniques are known in the art.

The activity of E4bp4 may be increased compared with a control for at least 6 hours, at least 12. hours, at least 24 hours, at least 30 hours, at least 36 hours, at least 42 hours, at least 48 hours, at least 54 hours, at least 60 hours, at least 72 hours, at least 4 days, at least 5 days, at least 6 days, at least 1 week. Preferably, the activity of E4bp4 is increased for at least 12 to 72 hours. Typically this

is assessed relative to the last administration of the compound which post-translationa!ly modified

E4bp4.

The activity of E4bp4 may be increased compared with a control for at least one, at least two, at least three, at least four, at least five, at least ten, at least 20, at least 30, at least 40 or more passages of the cultured cells. The activity of E4bp4 may be increased indefinitely.

Methods of expanding NK cells

The present invention relates to a method for expanding an NK cell population. Said method may be in vitro, in vivo or ex vivo. Said method comprises containing HPCs with a compound that inhibits the action of REV-ERB (as described herein) and expanding said cells to produce an NK ceil population. The methods of the invention allow for the rapid expansion of NK cells, reducing the time needed for their culture, and hence the risk of exhaustion, enhancing the cytotoxicity of the NK cells when transfused into a patient.

When said method is carried out in vivo, said method is a therapeutic method as described herein, in such embodiments, all the disclosure herein in relation to therapeutic indications and applications of the invention is applicable to said methods.

Typically the method of the invention is ex vivo. Accordingly, the invention provides an ex vivo method for expanding an NK ceil population comprising the steps of: (a) culturing an NK precursor ceil comprising sample obtained from an individual; (b) contacting said sample with a compound that inhibits the action of REV-ERB; and (c) expanding said cells in vitro to produce an NK ceil population. The compound may be any REV-ERB inhibitory compound of the invention as described herein. Typically said compound increases E4bp4 expression by decreasing REV-ERB activity as described herein, in a preferred embodiment, the compound has the formula (II) as defined herein, more preferably the compound has the formula (III) as defined herein, even more preferably the compound has the formula (IV) as defined herein, and even more preferably, the compound has the formula (V) as defined herein. Examples of specific compounds which may be used in the methods of the invention are described herein, with compounds 7 and 11 being particularly preferred.

Additional external stimuli, such as growth factors and/or cytokines, may be used to further enhance the production of NK cells. Non-limiting examples of suitable external stimuli include IL-7, IL-15, FltBL, stem cell factor (SCF), thrombopoietin (TPO), IL-3 and/or IL-6, or any combination thereof. In some preferred embodiments, IL-7, FltBL. and/or SCF, or any combination thereof is used. More preferably IL-7, FltBL and SCF are used.

As a non-limiting example, IL-7 may be used at a concentration of about 1 ng/ml to about 100 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 50 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 25 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to

about 10 ng/ml or less. In some embodiments IL-7 is used at a concentration of about 50 ng/ l, about 25 ng/ml, about 20 ng/ml, about 15 ng/ml, about 10 ng/ml or about 5 ng/ml, preferably about 10 ng/ml. As a non-limiting example, Fit3L may be used at a concentration of about 1 ng/ml to about 100 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 50 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 25 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 10 ng/ml or less. In some embodiments FltBL is used at a concentration of about 50 ng/ml, about 25 ng/ml, about 20 ng/ml, about 15 ng/ml, about 10 ng/ml or about 5 ng/ml, preferably about 10 ng/ml. As a non-limiting example, SCF may be used at a concentration of about 1 ng/ml to about 200 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 150 ng/ml, about lng/ml to about 100 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 50 ng/ml or less. In some embodiments SCF is used at a concentration of about 150 ng/ml, about 125 ng/ml, about 120 ng/ml, about 110 ng/ml, about 100 ng/ml, about 90 ng/ml, about 80 ng/ml or about 75 ng/ml, preferably about 100 ng/ml.

As a non-limiting example, IL-15 may be used at a concentration of about 1 ng/ml to about 100 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 50 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 40 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 30 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 20 ng/ml, about 1 ng/ml to about 10 ng/ml or less. In some embodiments IL-15 is used at a concentration of about 50 ng/ml, about 40 ng/ml, about 35 ng/ml, about 30 ng/ml, about 25 ng/ml, about 20 ng/ml or about 10 ng/ !, preferably about 30 ng/m!.

Alternatively or in addition, the HPCs may be cultured on or with suitable support/stromal cells or cell layer. Any appropriate stromal cel! may be used, including, but not limited to OP9 stromal cells and/or EL08-1D2 stromal cells.

In some embodiments, the ex vivo method comprises a single stage in which the HPCs in a sample obtained from a patient are cultured, contacted with a compound of the invention and expanded to form an NK ceil population, typically under substantially constant culture conditions. Typically this involves incubating the HPCs with factors such as !L-3, IL-7, SCF, F!t3L and/or IL-15, preferably ail of these factors. The HPCs are preferably also cultured on or with stromal cells/ cell layer, such as EL08-1D2 stromal ceils.

In some embodiments, the ex vivo method comprises two stages. The first is a lymphoid production stage, in which the HPCs in a sample obtained from a patient are cultured. Typically this involves incubating the HPCs with cytokines and growth factors associated with lymphoid production, such as FltBL, IL-7 and/or SCF This stage may last for at least one, at least two, at least three, at least four, or more days. In some preferred embodiments, this stage lasts for two days. The second stage of the ex vivo method is a stage of NK ceil expansion. Typically this involves transferring the cultured HSCs to a suitable stromal (support) cell layer, such as OP9 stromal cells and culturing in cytokines and growth factors associated with NK cell development, such as IL-15. A compound of the invention is typically added during this second stage, and preferably at the start of this second stage. The second stage lasts for the remainder of the ex vivo culture period fas defined above). The culture medium may be changed as often as required during this second stage in order to facilitate NK cell expansion. This second stay may last for at least one, at least two, at least three, at least four, at least five, at least six, at least seven, at least eight, at least nine, at least ten, at least 11, at least 12, at least 13, at least 14 or more days. In some preferred embodiments, this stage lasts for at least one week.

The HPC comprising sample may be cultured ex vivo for at least 5 days, at least 6 days, at least 7 days, at least 8 days, at least 9 days, at least 10 days, at least 11 days, at least 12 days, at least 13 days, at least 14 days, at least 15 days, at least 16 days, at least 17 days, at least 18 days or more. Typically said sample is cultured for at least 9 days in order to produce an expanded NK cell population. These culture periods are for the total culture period of the ex vivo method, i.e. if there are two stages, these periods are for the total (stage 1 plus stage 2). An example culture scheme for HPCs for the production of NK cells is set out in Figure 2A.

The REV-ERB inhibitor compound of the invention may be added to the sample comprising HPCs within one week, within six days, within five days, within four days, within three days, within two days, within one day of isolating the HPCs in the sample, or on the same day as isolating the NK ceil precursors. Typically this is the same day that the sample is obtained from the patient. Preferably the compound of the invention is added to the sample within two days of isolating the HPCs in the sample, even more preferably on day two following isolation of the HPCs. in some embodiments the compound is added at multiple time points, for example when the culture medium is changed. As a non-limiting example, the compound of the invention may be added two days after isolating the HPCs, and then added again at day five post-isolation of the HPCs. This disclosure applies to ail methods of the invention, e.g. for one stage and two stage methods as described herein, and/or methods which also use a Notch ligand and/or a compound which alters the posttransiationai modification of E4hp4 as described herein.

Any appropriate concentration of a compound of the invention may be used, provided that it inhibits the action of REV-ERB as described herein and has utility in expanding an NK ceil population. As a non-limiting example, in any aspect of the invention, a compound of the invention may be used at a final concentration of about 2 to about 20 mM, about 2. to about 15 mM, about 5 to about 15 mM, about 5 to about 14 mM, about 4 to about 13 mM, about 5 to about 12. mM, about 5 to about 11 mM, or preferably about 5 to about 10 mM.

The present inventors have previously demonstrated that combining the use of a Notch ligand (such as DLL4) and REV-ERB inhibition results in a potent means for enhancing NK cell

production, allowing for the production of large numbers of functional NK cells that are suitable for in vivo therapeutic use more rapidly than the current methods.

Thus, the invention provides an ex vivo method for expanding an NK cell population comprising the steps of: (a) culturing an HPC comprising sample obtained from an individual/patient with a compound that inhibits the action of REV-ERB (as described herein); (b) culturing said cells in the presence of a Notch ligand (such as DLL4); and (c) expanding said cells in vitro to produce an NK ceil population. Step (a) and (b) may be carried out concurrently or in any order. For example, step (a) may be carried out first, followed by step (b), such that the cells are first exposed to a REV-ERB inhibitory compound and then cultured in the presence of a Notch ligand. Alternatively, step (b) may be carried out first, followed by step (a), such that the cells are first cultured in the presence of a Notch ligand and then in the presence of a REV-ERB inhibitory compound. Alternatively, steps (a) and (b) may be carried out concurrently, such that the cells are simultaneously cultured in the presence of a REV-ERB inhibitory compound and a Notch ligand.

In some preferred embodiments, step (a) may be carried out first, followed by step (b), such that the cells are first cultured in the presence of a REV-ERB inhibitory compound and then in the presence of a Notch ligand. Thus, in those embodiments the invention provides an ex vivo method for expanding an NK cell population comprising the steps of: (a) culturing an HPC comprising sample obtained from an individual/patient with a compound that inhibits the action of REV-ERB (as described herein); (b) culturing said cells in the presence of a Notch ligand (such as DLL4); and (c) expanding said ceils in vitro to produce an NK cell population.

Typically the Notch ligand is a Notch ligand as described herein. Preferably, the Notch ligand is DDL4, or a fragment thereof which retains the function of DLL4, as described herein.

The Notch ligand (such as DLL4) may be present in solution (e.g. in the culture medium) or used to coat the vessel in which the HPCs are cultured. Preferably the Notch ligand (e.g. DLL4) is used to coat the vessel in which the HPCs are cultured. As a non-limiting example, in any aspect of the invention where a Notch ligand is used, the Notch ligand (e.g. DLL4) may be used at a concentration of about 1 pg/ml to about 100 pg/ml, about 1 pg/ml to about 50 pg/ml, about 1 pg/ml to about 25 pg/ml, about 1 pg/ml to about 10 pg/ml or less. In some embodiments the Notch ligand (e.g. DLL4) is used at a concentration of about 50 pg/ml, about 25 pg/ml, about 20 pg/ml, about 15 pg/ml, about 10 pg/ml, or about 5 pg/ml, preferably about 10 pg/ml. Additional substrates and/or linkers may be used to facilitate the attachment of the Notch ligand (such as DL.L4) to the surface of the culture vessels. Examples of such substrates are known in the art, such as poly-L-lysine.

As described above, HPCs may be cultured in the presence or absence of a stromal support cell or feeder cell, or population thereof. In some preferred embodiments where a Notch ligand is used, the ceils are cultured in the absence of a stromal support cell or population thereof.

In some embodiments, the ex vivo method comprises a single stage in which the HPCs in a sample obtained from an individual/patient are cultured, contacted with a compound of the invention and a Notch ligand and expanded to form an NK ceil population, typically under substantially constant culture conditions (i.e. steps (a) and (b) of the method are carried out concurrently). Typically this involves incubating the HPCs with factors such as IL-3, IL-7, SCF, FitBL and/or !L-15, preferably all of these factors. The HPCs may be cultured in the presence or absence of stromal ceils/ cell layer, such as ELQ8-1D2 stromal cells.

In some embodiments, the ex vivo method comprises two stages (analogous to the scheme shown in Figure 2). The first is a lymphoid production stage, in which the HPCs in a sample obtained from an individual/patient are cultured. Typically this involves incubating the HPCs with cytokines and growth factors associated with lymphoid production, such as Flt3L, IL-7 and/or SCF. This stage may last for at least one, at least two, at least three, at least four, or more days. In some preferred embodiments, this stage lasts for two days.

This is followed by a stage of NK ceil expansion. Typically this involves culturing the cells in cytokines and growth factors associated with NK ceil development, such as iL-15, and may involve transferring the cultured HSCs to a suitable stromal (support) ceil layer, such as OP9 stromal cells. The second stage lasts for the remainder of the ex vivo culture period (as defined herein). The culture medium may be changed as often as required during this second stage in order to facilitate NK cell expansion. Any REV-ERB inhibitory compounds, Notch ligands and/or compounds which alter the posttransiationai modification of E4bp4 that are present in the culture medium before it is replaced may be administered again with the fresh culture medium, either at the same or different concentration. As a non-limiting example, if a compound of the invention is added two days after isolating the HPCs, and the medium changed at day five post-isolation of the HPCs, the compound may be administered again at day 5 post-isolation with the fresh medium.

In some embodiments, the REV-ERB inhibitory compound of the invention is added in stage 1 (lymphoid production) and the Notch ligand in the second stage (NK cell expansion). In other embodiments, the Notch ligand is added in stage 1 (lymphoid production) and the REV-EB inhibitory compound in the second stage (NK cell expansion), in yet other embodiments, both the REV-ERB inhibitory compound and the Notch ligand added in the first stage (lymphoid production). In further embodiments, both the REV-ERB inhibitory compound and the Notch ligand added in the second (NK cell expansion phase), if the REV-ERB inhibitory compound and the Notch ligand added in the same

stage (either stage 1 or stage that stage may be further divided so that: (i) the REV-ERB inhibitory compound is added before the Notch ligand; or (ii) the Notch ligand is added before the REV-ERB inhibitory compound. Alternatively, the Notch ligand and REV-ERB inhibitory compound may be added simultaneously in the same stage. Figure 2B illustrates some embodiments of the different method schemes for the REV-ERB inhibitory compound and Notch ligand combination aspects of the invention. The timings of administration included in Figure 2B are non-limiting; any appropriate timings for administration, such as those described herein, may be used. In some preferred embodiments the REV-ERB inhibitor is added in stage 1 (e.g. at day 0 or on day 2), with the Notch ligand being added later (e.g. at day 2 or 4 respectively).

Typically the REV-ERB inhibitory compound is added during the first stage, and the Notch ligand is added during the second stage, and preferably at the start of this second stage.

The HPC comprising sample may be cultured ex vivo for at least 5 days, at least 6 days, at least 7 days, at least 8 days, at least 9 days, at least 10 days, at least 11 days, at least 12 days, at least 13 days, at least 14 days, at least 15 days, at least 16 days, at least 17 days, at least 18 days or more. Typically said sample is cultured for at least 9 days in order to produce an expanded NK cell population. These culture periods are for the total culture period of the ex vivo method, i.e. if there are two stages, these periods are for the total (stage 1 plus stage 2).

The REV-ERB inhibitory compound of the invention may be added to the sample comprising HPCs within one week, within six days, within five days, within four days, within three days, within two days, within one day of isolating the HPCs in the sample, or on the same day as isolating the NK ceil precursors. Typically this is the same day that the sample is obtained from the patient. Preferably the REV-ERB inhibitory compound of the invention is added to the sample within two days of isolating the HPCs in the sample, such as on the day of isolation of the HPCs. Most preferably the REV-ERB inhibitory compound of the invention is added to the sample two days post isolation of the HPCs. In some embodiments the compound is added at multiple time points, for example when the culture medium is changed. As a non-limiting example, the compound of the invention may be added two days after isolating the HPCs, and then added again at day five post isolation of the HPCs.

The Notch ligand of the invention may be added to the sample comprising HPCs within one week, within six days, within five days, within four days, within three days, within two days, within one day of isolating the HPCs in the sample, or on the same day as isolating the NK cell precursors. Typically this is the same day that the sample is obtained from the patient. Preferably the Notch ligand of the invention is added to the sample within four days of isolating the HPCs in the sample, such as on day two following isolation of the HPCs. Most preferably the Notch ligand of the

invention is added to the sample two or four days post isolation of the HPCs. Thus, typically the Notch ligand is present on or from 4 days after isolating the H PCs.

Preferred embodiments of the invention comprise (i) adding the REV-ERB inhibitory compound and the Notch ligand to the sample on the day of isolation of the HPCs; (ii) adding the REV-ERB inhibitory compound to the sample on the day of isolation of the HPCs and adding the Notch ligand to the sample on day two post isolation of the HPCs; or (iii) adding the REV-ERB inhibitory compound to the sample on day two post isolation of the HPCs and adding the Notch ligand to the sample on day four post isolation of the HPCs; with option (iii) being particularly preferred. As demonstrated previously by the inventors, these particular conditions maximise the synergy between the REV-ERB inhibition and the Notch ligand, and hence maximising the expansion of NK cells.

Additionally, the cells may be cultured in the presence of additional external stimuli (as described herein) in combination with a Notch ligand. As a non-limiting example, a Notch ligand may be used with 11-15. For example, the cells may be first exposed to a Notch ligand and then IL-15. Alternatively, the cells may first be cultured in the presence of IL-15 and then in the presence of a Notch ligand. Alternatively, the cells may be simultaneously cultured in the presence of a Notch ligand and IL-15. Preferably the ceils are first cultured in the presence of a Notch ligand and then IL-15.

The HPCs may be cultured in the presence of a Notch ligand (such as DLL4) for at least 6 hours, at least 12 hours, at least 24 hours, at least 30 hours, at least 36 hours, at least 42 hours, at least 48 hours, at least 54 hours, at least 60 hours, at least 72 hours, at least 4 days, at least 5 days, at least 6 days, at least 1 week. Typically for 72 hours to 1 week. The cells may be cultured in the presence of IL-15 for at least 6 hours, at least 12 hours, at least 24 hours, at least 30 hours, at least 36 hours, at least 42. hours, at least 48 hours, at least 54 hours, at least 60 hours, at least 72 hours, at least 4 days, at least 5 days, at least 6 days, at least 1 week, at least 2 weeks, at least 3 weeks or longer, until the desired number of NK cells is produced. For example, the step of culturing in 11-15 may be is 1 week or more in length, 7 to 9 days in length, or about two weeks in length.

Alternatively, these durations may be measured in terms of the number of cell passages. For example, at least one, at least two, at least three, at least four, at least five, at least ten, at least 20, at least 30, at least 40 or more passages of the ceils (either in vivo, or cultured ex vivo or in vitro).

The durations of exposure to Notch ligand and IL-15 are independent, and any duration for Notch culture may be used in combination with any duration of I L-15 culture. In some preferred embodiments, Notch exposure/culture is 72 hours to 1 week in length and IL-15 exposure/culture is 1 week (or more) in length.

Typically IL-7, FltBL and/or SCF are used together with the Notch ligand in some preferred embodiments, the HPCs are cultured in the presence of IL-7, FltBL and SCF together with the Notch ligand.

The methods of the invention (both those including and excluding a step of contacting the HPCs with a Notch ligand) may further comprise a step of contacting the HPCs with a compound which results in the alteration of post-transiationai modification of E4bp4, thereby causing an increase in E4bp4 activity, as described herein. Optionally the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4 is a reduction in SUMOylaiion and/or phosphorylation of E4bp4 as described herein. In some preferred embodiments the compound which results in the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4: reduces SUMOylation at one or more of residues K10, K116, K219, K337 and/or K394 of E4bp4, or a residue corresponding thereto, or any combination thereof; and/or reduces phosphorylation at one or more of residues 5286, S301 and/or 5454 of E4bp4, or a residue corresponding thereto, or any combination thereof.

Any appropriate concentration of a compound which results in the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4 may be used, provided that it increases the activity of E4bp4 as described herein and has utility in expanding an NK cell population. As a non-limiting example, in any aspect of the invention, a compound which results in the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4 may be used at a final concentration of about 0.1 to about 20 mM, about 0.1 to about 15 mM, about 0.5 to about 15 mM, about 0.5 to about 14 mM, about 0.5 to about 12 mM, about 0.5 to about 11 mM, or about 0.5 to about 10 mM, such as from about 5 to about 10 mM. In some preferred embodiments, a compound which results in the alteration of post-translational modification of E4bp4 may be used at a final concentration of about 0.5 to about 5 mM, more preferably of about 0.5 to about 2 mM, even more preferable of about 0.5 to about ImM.

The REV-ERB inhibitor compound. Notch ligand and/or compound which alters E4bp4 post-translational modification may be used simultaneously, separately or sequentially as described herein.

Each of the REV-ERB inhibitor compound, Notch ligand and/or compound which alters E4bp4 post-translational modification may independently be used as a single treatment or application or in multiple treatments or applications (in both in vitro, ex vivo or in vivo methods as described herein). For multiple applications, at least two, at least three, at least four, at least five, at least six, at least seven, at least eight, at least nine or more applications may be used. The multiple applications may be applied at any appropriate time points according to a method or treatment of the invention. By way of non-limiting example, a REV-ERB inhibitory compound of the invention, a Notch ligand and/or a compound which alters E4bp4 post-translational modification may each independently be applied

twice a day, once daily, every other day, once every three days or weekly Typica!!y the REV-ERB inhibitory compounds of the invention, the Notch ligand and/or a compound which alters E4bp4 post-translational modification may independently be applied as necessary when the culture medium is changed.

The method of the invention may further comprise modulating (increasing or decreasing the expression and/or activity of one or more additional gene and/or protein in the HPCs in order to enhance NK ceil expansion. This modulation may be elicited by a compound of the invention, including the same compound of the invention as used to inhibit the activity of REV-ERB. Alternatively, one or more additional compounds may be used to modulate the expression and/or activity of the one or more additional gene and/or protein. Said modulation may occur directly or indirectly. Indirect modulation encompasses downstream effects caused by a compound of the invention inhibiting the activity of REV-ERB.

In all methods of the invention, the sample comprising HPCs obtained from an individuai/patient may be a sample obtained from bone marrow, cord blood and/or peripheral blood. Thus, the sample may be a cord or peripheral blood sample, or a bone marrow sample or biopsy. The sample may be obtained from the individual who is to be treated with the NK cell population produced by a method of the invention (i.e. a patient). Alternatively, the sample is obtained from a healthy individual.

According to the present invention, a sample comprising HPCs is any sample from an individual which comprises a sufficient number of HPCs (as described herein), such that an expanded NK cell population can be obtained by contacting said sample with a compound according to the present invention. Typically the sample comprises HSCs. Preferably said sample is enriched for HSCs, such as a cord or peripheral blood sample or a bone marrow sample or biopsy as described herein.

A method of the invention may result in an increase in, the number of NK cells of at least

1.5-fold, at least 2-fold, at least 2 1-fold, at least 2 2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2.4-fo!d, at least

2.5-fold, at least 2.6-fold, at least 2.7-fold, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2 9-fold, at least 3-fold, at least 4-fold, at least 5-fold, at least 6-fold, at least 7-fold, at least 8-fold, at least 9-fold, at least 10-fold or more relative to a control. Typically the number of NK cells is increased by at least 2-fold, at least 2 1-fold, at least 2.2-fold, at least 2.3-fold, at least 2 4-fold, at least 2.5-fold, at least 2 6-fold, at least 2.7-fold, at least 2.8-fold, at least 2.9-fold, at least 3-fold, or more compared with the control.

A method of the invention may accelerate the production of phenotypicaily mature NK cells in other words, the method of the invention may reduce the time taken to arrive at a population of mature NK ceils. A reduction in the run time of the method offers a further advantage over the

conventional methods for NK cell expansion known in the art. As a non-limiting example, current clinical procedures for the expansion of NK ceils can take more than two weeks to generate an NK ceil population that comprises about 20% mature NK ceils. In contrast, a method of the invention may achieve an equivalent population in 10 days or less, preferably in one week or less. A method of the invention may achieve a population of at least 40% mature NK cells, preferably at least 45%, at least 46%, at least 47%, at least 48%, or at least 49% mature NK ceils, even more preferably at least 50% mature NK cells in three weeks or less, 20 days or less, 19 days or less, 18 days or less, 17 days or less, 16 days or less, 15 days or less, two weeks or less, 13 days or less, or 12 days or less. Preferably a method of the invention can achieve a population of at least 45% mature NK cells within two weeks or less.

Typically an ex vivo method of the present invention involves a final step to purify the expanded NK cell population. This ensures a pure population for therapeutic administration as described herein. Purification of the expanded NK cell population may be by any appropriate means. Standard cell purification methods are known in the art, such as cell sorting, including fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and magnetic-activated ceil sorting (MACS).

In some methods of the invention, including but not limited to those involving the combination of a Notch ligand and a REV-ERB inhibitory compound, the % of NK ceils in the final cell population may be very high (typically greater than 85%, preferably greater than 90%, more preferably greater than 95%, and may approach 100%). In such instances, a final purification step may optionally be omitted.


The invention provides a REV-ERB antagonist for use in a method of therapy by increasing the production of NK cells in a patient.

The REV-ERB antagonist for use in said method of therapy may be any REV-ERB antagonist as described herein. Typically the REV-ERB antagonist for use in said method increases E4bp4 expression by decreasing REV-ERB activity.

Typically the method of therapy comprises administering a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB (as described herein) to a patient or subject.

The invention also provides products containing a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB and a Notch ligand as a combined preparation for simultaneous, separate or sequential use in a method of therapy by increasing the production of NK cells in a patient.

The Notch ligand for use in said method of therapy may be any Notch ligand as described herein. In some preferred embodiments, the Notch ligand is DLL4 or a fragment thereof which

retains the function of DL.L4. Any REV-ERB antagonist and any Notch !igand of the invention may be used in combination.

Typically a method of therapy relating to said REV-ERB antagonist and Notch ligand products comprises administering the products (as described herein) to a patient or subject. The Notch ligand and REV-ERB antagonist may be administered simultaneously, separately or sequentially. For separate or sequential administration, the Notch ligand may be administered first, followed by the REV-ERB antagonist, or vice versa.

Sequential administration may mean that the two products are administered immediately one after the other, or that the second product is administered within 1 minute, within two minutes, within three minutes, within four minutes, within five minutes, within 10 minutes, within 15 minutes, within 20 minutes, within 25 minutes, within 30 minutes, within 45 minutes, within one hour, or more of the first product being administered.

Separate administration may mean that the second product is administered within one hour, within two hours, within three hours, within six hours, within 12 hours, within 24 hours, within 2 days, within 3 days, within 4 days, within 5 days, within 6 days, within 7 days or more of the first product being administered.

As used herein, the term "increasing the number of NK cells" and "increasing production of NK cells" can be understood to mean that the compound of the invention elicits a significant increase in the number of NK cells in a patient. This increase in NK cell number may be measured relative to a control (as described herein in the context of increasing E4bp4 expression and inhibiting REV-ERB activity).

A reference to an increase in the number of NK ceils and/or increasing NK ceil production may be quantified in terms of a fold increase relative to a control. Typically a compound of the invention can increase the number of NK ceils, or give rise to an increase in NK cell production, of at least 1.5 fold, at least 1.6 fold, at least 1.7 fold, at least 1.8 fold, at least 1.9 fold, at least 2 fold, at least 2.1 fold, at least 2.2 fold, at least 2.3 fold, at least 2,4 fold, at least 2.5 fold, at least 3 fold or more relative to a control.

Alternatively, a reference to increasing the number of NK ceils and/or increasing NK cell production may be understood to mean that, the number of NK cells is increased by at least 10%, at least 20%, at least 30%, at least 40%, at least 50%, at least 60, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 95?4, at least 100?4, at least 150?4, at least 200?4, at least 300?4 or more compared with the control. Typically the number of NK cells is increased by at least 50%, preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80%, even more preferably at least 90% or more compared with a control.

In some embodiments, an increase in the number of NK ceils and/or increase in NK cell production may be defined in terms of the absolute number of NK cells in a sample or patient, such as the percentage of NK ceils, for example the percentage of NK ceils in the circulating lymphocyte population. For example, a compound of the invention may cause an increase in NK number, resulting in a percentage of NK ceils of at least 10%, at least 15%, at least 20%, at least 25%, at least 30%, at least 35%, at least 40%, at least 45%, at least 50%, at least 55%, at least 60%, at least 65%, at least 70%, at least 75%, at least 80% or more.

The number of NK cells may be determined by quantitative and/or qualitative analysis, and may be measured directly or indirectly. The number of NK cells relative to a control may be determined using any appropriate technique. Suitable standard techniques, such as flow cytometry, FACS and MACS, are known in the art.

The number of NK cells may be increased compared with a control for at least 6 hours, at least 12 hours, at least 24 hours, at least 30 hours, at least 36 hours, at least 42 hours, at least 48 hours, at least 54 hours, at least 60 hours, at least 72 hours, at least 4 days, at least 5 days, at least 6 days, at least 1 week, at least 2 weeks, at least 3 weeks, at least 1 month or more. Typically this is assessed relative to the last administration of the compound which inhibits REV-ERB activity.

The number of NK cells may be quantified in terms of the total number of NK cells in a sample from a patient or culture sample (from an ex vivo method of the invention).

In the context of the therapeutic uses and methods of the invention, a "subject" or "patient" (these terms are used interchangeably herein) is any animal patient that would benefit from an increase in the number of NK ceils. Typical animal patients are mammals, such as primates. Preferably the patient is a human.

Thus, the present invention provides a method of treatment by increasing the number of NK cells in a patient in need thereof, comprising administering to said patient a therapeutically effective amount of a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB (as described herein). Also provided is a method of treatment by increasing the number of NK ceils in a patient in need thereof, comprising administering to said patient a therapeutically effective amount of a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB (as described herein) and a Notch ligand (as described herein).

Additionally, the present invention provides the use of a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB in the manufacture of a medicament. Said medicament increases the number of NK cells in a patient. Additionally, the present invention provides the use of a compound which inhibits the action of REV-ERB and a Notch ligand in the manufacture of a medicament. Said medicament increases the number of NK cells in a patient.

The therapeutic use or method of the invention may comprise administering a therapeutically effective amount of a compound or products of the invention, either alone or in combination with other therapeutic agents, to a subject.

As used herein, the term "treatment" or "treating" embraces therapeutic or preventative/prophylactic measures.

The compounds of the invention may also be used as a preventative therapy. As used herein, the term "preventing" includes preventing the onset of symptoms associated with a disease or disorder that may be treated by increasing NK cell number and/or reducing the severity or intensity of said symptoms. The term "preventing" includes inducing or providing protective immunity against such diseases or disorders, particularly infectious diseases as described herein. Immunity may be quantified using any appropriate technique, examples of which are known in the art.

A compound or products of the invention may be administered to a patient already having a disease or disorder which may be treated by increasing NK cell number. For example, the patient may be suspected of having an infectious disease or cancer as described herein, and may or may not be showing symptoms of said disease or disorder. When administered to such a patient, a compound or products of the invention can cure, delay, reduce the severity of, or ameliorate one or more symptoms, and/or prolong the survival of a subject beyond that expected in the absence of such treatment.

Alternatively, a compound or products of the invention may be administered to a patient who may ultimately be infected with a particular infectious disease, or develop a disease or disorder as described herein, in order to cure, delay, reduce the severity of, or ameliorate one or more symptoms, and/or prolong the survival of a subject beyond that expected in the absence of such treatment, or, in the case of infectious diseases help prevent that patient from transmitting said disease.

The treatments and preventative therapies of the present invention are applicable to a variety of different subjects of different ages. In the context of humans, the therapies are applicable to children (e.g. infants, children under 5 years old, older children or teenagers) and adults. In the context of other animal subjects (e.g. mammals such as primates), the therapies are applicable to immature subjects and mature/adult subjects.

The invention relates to the treatment of any disease or disorder which may be beneficially treated with by increasing the number of NK cells in a patient. Such diseases and disorders include cancer, infectious diseases (acute and chronic), autoimmune diseases and diseases or disorders related to female infertility or pregnancy. Infectious diseases that may be treated according to the present invention include viral infection, and infection by other pathogens, including bacteria, protists, fugal, or helminth pathogens. Typically said pathogens are intracellular pathogens which have at least one intracellular phase in their life cycle. Infections of particular interest include viral infections, and zoonotic infections that are of particular importance from a public health perspective. Cancers that may be treated according to the present invention include bladder cancer, blood cancers, leukaemia, bone cancers, bowel cancer, brain tumours, breast cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, stomach cancer, testicular cancer and uterine cancer. Autoimmune diseases that may be treated according to the present invention include systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and obesity-induced insulin resistance. As used herein, the term diseases or disorders related to female infertility or pregnancy includes, but is not limited to, fetal growth restriction, preterm labour, defects in uterine vascular remodelling and preeclampsia.

The compounds or products of the invention may be used in combination with one or more additional therapeutic agents or treatments, which typically may be selected from a conventional treatment for the disease or disorder to be treated. As a non-limiting example, if a compound or products of the invention are for use in the treatment of a cancer, such as lung cancer, then said compound or products may be used in combination with conventional treatments for lung cancer, such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery. When used in combination with one or more additional therapeutic agent or treatment, a compound or products of the invention may be administered before, simultaneously with, or after the administration of the one or more additional therapeutic agent or treatment.

In some preferred embodiments, a compound or products of the invention is for use in combination with antibody-mediated immunotherapy. Antibody-mediated immunotherapy involves the administration of antibodies to a patient to target disease-specific antigens. Such antibodies could be used to increase the specificity and killing activity of NK ceils, which express receptors for the Fc regions of IgG antibodies. Activation of these Fc receptors, leads to NK cel! activation, resulting in cytokine secretion and release of cytotoxic granules by the activated NK cell, causing lysis of the cell expressing the disease antigen. Such combination therapy is particularly preferred for the treatment of cancer (using antibodies to tumour-specific antigens). Any antibody used in immunotherapy may be used in combination with a compound of the invention. Non-limiting examples of such antibodies include anti-CD20 mAbs (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic lymphoma), anti-ganglioside D2 (anti-GD2) Abs (neuroblastoma, melanoma), anti human epidermal growth factor (anti-HER2) mAbs (breast and gastric cancers), anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) mAbs (colorectal and head and neck cancer).

In other aspects, the invention provides the use of an expanded NK cell population (as described herein) in a therapeutic use or method as described herein. Any and all of the disclosure herein in relation to therapeutic indications of a compound or products of the invention may apply equally and independently to therapeutic applications of the expanded NK ceil populations of the invention. As a non-limiting example, the present invention provides an expanded NK ceil population (as described herein) for use in a method of therapy, for example in the treatment of cancer, an infectious diseases, an autoimmune disease or a disease or disorder related to female infertility or pregnancy. As another non-limiting example, the invention provides a method of treatment by increasing the number of NK cells in a patient in need thereof, comprising administering to said patient a therapeutically effective amount of an expanded NK ceil population.


The "compound" and products described herein may be comprised in a "therapeutic/prophylactic composition", "formulation" or "medicament" of the invention.

The compound or expanded NK cell population of the invention (as defined above) can be combined or administered in addition to a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier, diluent and/or excipient. Alternatively or in addition the compound or expanded NK ceil population of the invention can further be combined with one or more of a salt, excipient, diluent, adjuvant, immunoregulatory agent and/or antimicrobial compound.

The compound of formula (I) may be in the form of a salt, particularly a pharmaceutically acceptable salt. Pharmaceutically acceptable salts include acid addition salts formed with inorganic acids such as, for example, hydrochloric or phosphoric acids, or with organic acids such as acetic, oxalic, tartaric, maleic, and the like. Salts formed with the free carboxyl groups may also be derived from inorganic bases such as, for example, sodium, potassium, ammonium, calcium, or ferric hydroxides, and such organic bases as isopropylamine, trimethylamine, 2-ethylamino ethanol, histidine, procaine, and the like.

Administration of immunogenic compositions, therapeutic formulations, medicaments and prophylactic formulations is generally by conventional routes e.g. intravenous, subcutaneous, intraperitoneal, or mucosal routes. The administration may be by parenteral injection, for example, a subcutaneous, intradermal or intramuscular injection. For example, formulations comprising antibodies or expanded NK cell populations of the invention may be particularly suited to administration intravenously, intramuscularly, intraderma!ly, or subcutaneously. Administration of small molecule REV-ERB inhibitors may be injection, such as intravenously, intramuscularly,

intradermal!y, or subcutaneously, or by oral administration (small molecules with molecule weight of less than 500 Da typically exhibiting oral bioavailability).

Accordingly, immunogenic compositions, therapeutic formulations, medicaments and prophylactic formulations of the invention may be prepared as injectables, either as liquid solutions or suspensions. Solid forms suitable for solution in, or suspension in, liquid prior to injection may alternatively be prepared. The preparation may also be emulsified, or the peptide encapsulated in liposomes or microcapsules.

The active immunogenic ingredients (such as the compounds or expanded NK ceil populations of the invention) are often mixed with excipients which are pharmaceutically acceptable and compatible with the active ingredient. Suitable excipients are, for example, water, saline, dextrose, glycerol, ethanol, or the like and combinations thereof. In addition, if desired, the vaccine may contain minor amounts of auxiliary substances such as wetting or emulsifying agents, pH buffering agents, and/or adjuvants which enhance the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Generally, the carrier is a pharmaceuticaily -acceptable carrier. Non-limiting examples of pharmaceutically acceptable carriers include water, saline, and phosphate-buffered saline. In some embodiments, however, where the composition comprises a compound of the invention, this may be in lyopbi!ized form, in which case it may include a stabilizer, such as BSA. In some embodiments, it may be desirable to formulate the composition with a preservative, such as thio ersa! or sodium azide, to facilitate long term storage.

Examples of additional adjuvants which may be effective include but are not limited to: complete Freunds adjuvant (CFA), Incomplete Freunds adjuvant (IFA), Saponin, a purified extract fraction of Saponin such as Quil A, a derivative of Saponin such as QS-21, lipid particles based on Saponin such as iSCOM/iSCOMATRIX, E. coli heat labile toxin (LT) mutants such as LTK63 and/ or S.TK72, aluminium hydroxide, N-acetyl-muramyl-L-threonyl-D-isoglutamine (thr-MDP), N-acetyl-nor-muramyl-S.-alanyl-D-isoglutamine (CGP 11637, referred to as nor-MDP), N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanyl-D-isoglutaminyi-L-aianine-2-(l’-2'-dipal itoyl-sn-glycero-3-hydroxyphosphoryl oxy)-ethylamine (CGP 19835A, referred to as MTP-PE), and R!B!, which contains three components extracted from bacteria, monophosphoryl lipid A, trehalose dimycolate and cell wall skeleton ( PL+TDM+CW5) in a 2 % squalene/ Tween 80 emulsion, the F59 formulation developed by Novartis, and the AS02, AS01, AS03 and AS04 adjuvant formulations developed by GSK Biologicals (Rixensart, Belgium).

Examples of buffering agents include, but are not limited to, sodium succinate (pH 6.5), and phosphate buffered saline (PBS; pH 6.5 and 7.5).

Additional formulations which are suitable for other modes of administration include suppositories and, in some cases, oral formulations or formulations suitable for distribution as

aerosols. For suppositories, traditional binders and carriers may include, for example, polyaikylene glycols or triglycerides; such suppositories may be formed from mixtures containing the active ingredient in the range of 0.5% to 10%, preferably l%-2%.

Oral formulations include such normally employed excipients as, for example, pharmaceutical grades of mannitol, lactose, starch, magnesium stearate, sodium saccharine, cellulose, magnesium carbonate, and the like. These compositions take the form of solutions, suspensions, tablets, pills, capsules, sustained release formulations or powders.

The dosage ranges for administration of the compounds or products of the present invention are those which produce the desired therapeutic effect, it will be appreciated that the dosage range required depends on the precise nature of the compound, the route of administration, the nature of the formulation, the age of the patient, the nature, extent or severity of the patient's condition, contraindications, if any, and the judgement of the attending physician. Variations in these dosage levels can be adjusted using standard empirical routines for optimisation. Similarly, the dose of a compound or products of the invention for use in a method of the invention, particularly an ex vivo method, can be readily determined by one of skill in the art, and is any dose that produces the desired increase in NK ceil number and/or elicits the desired expansion in NK cells, to produce an expanded NK cel! population. As a non-limiting example, doses of compound 7 or 11 according to the present invention may give rise to a final concentration of about 2 to about 20 mM, about 2 to about 15 mM, about 5 to about 15 mM, about 5 to about 14 mM, about 4 to about 13 mM, about 5 to about 12 mM, about 5 to about 11 mM, or preferably about 5 to about 10 mM,

The invention also provides the use of an expanded NK cel! population (as described herein) in a pharmaceutical formulation. Any and all of the disclosure herein in relation to formulations of a compound of the invention may apply equally and independently to therapeutic applications of the expanded NK cell populations of the invention.


SEQ. D NO: 1 - E4bp4 gene sequence (X64318.1)

1 gcccct tt.ct ttctcctcgt cggcccgaga gcaggaacac gataaegaag gaggcccaac

61 tteat:teaat aaggagcctg aeggatttat cccagacggt agaacaaaag gaagaatatt

121 gatggatttt aaaccagagt ttttaaagag cttgagaata cggggaaatt; aatttgttct

181 cctacacaca tagatagggt aaggttgttt ctgatgcagc tgagaaaaat gcagaccgtc

241 aaaaaggagc aggegtetet tgatgccagt agcaatgtgg acaagatgat ggtccttaat

301 tctgctttaa cggaagtgtc agaagactcc acaacaggtg aggaegtget tctcagtgaa

361 ggaagtgtgg ggaagaacaa atettetgea tgtcggagga aacgggaatt cattcctgat

421 gaaaagaaag atgctatgta ttgggaaaaa aggcggaaaa ataatgaage tgccaaaaqa

481 tetegtgaga agcgtcgact gaatgacctg gttttagaga acaaactaat tgcactgqga

541 gaagaaaa.cg ccactttaaa agctgagctg ctttcactaa aattaaagtt tggtttaatt

601 agctccacag catatgctca agagattcag aaactcagta attctacagc tgtgtact tt 661 caagattacc agacttccaa atccaatgtg agttcatttg tggaegagea cgaaccctcg 721 atggtgtcaa gtagttgtat ttctgtcatt aaacactctc cacaaagctc gctgtccgat 781 gtttcagaag tgtcctcagt agaacacacg caggagagct ctgtgcaggg aagctgcaga 841 agtcctgaaa acaagttcca gattatcaag caagagccga tggaattaga gaget acacia 901 agggagccaa gagatgaccg aggctcttac acagcgtcca tctatcaaaa ctatatgggg 961 aattctttct ctgggtactc acactctccc ccactactgc aagtcaaccg atcctccagc 1021 aactccccga gaacgtcgga aactgatgat ggtgtggtag gaaagtcatc tgatggagaa 1081 gacgagcaac aggtccccaa gggccccatc cattctccag ttgaactcaa gcatgtgcat 1141 gcaactgtgg ttaaagttcc agaagtgaat tcctctgect tgccacacaa gctccggatc 1201 aaagccaaag ccatgcagat caaagtagaa gcctttgata atgaatttga ggccacgcaa 1261 aaactttcct cacctattga catgacatct aaaagacatt tcgaactcga aaagcatagt 1321 gccccaagta tggtacattc ttctcttact cctttctcag tgcaagtgac taacattcaa 1381 gattggtctc tcaaatcgga gcactggcat caaaaagaac tgagtggcaa aactcagaat 1441 agtttcaaaa ctggagttgt tgaaatgaaa gacagtggc!: acaaagtttc tgacccagag

1501 aacttgtatt tgaagcaggg gatagcaaac ttatctgcag aggttgtctc actcaagaga 1561 cttatagcca cacaaccaat ctctgcttca gactctgggt aaattactac tgagtaagag 1621 ctgggcattt agaaagatgt catttgcaat agagcagtcc attttgtatt atgetgaatt

1681 ttcactggac ctgtgatgtc atttcactgt gatgtgcaca tgttgtctgt ttggtgtctt 1741 tttgtgcaca gattatgatg aagattagat tgtgttatca ctctgcctgt gtatagtcag 1801 atagtcatat gcgtaaggct gtatatatta agnttttatt tttgttgttc tattataaag 1861 tgtgtaagtt accagtttca ataaaggatt ggtgacaaac acagaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaa 1921 aaa

SEQ ID NO: 2 - E4hp4 amino acid sequence (X64318.1)

MQLRK QTVKKEQASLDASSNVDKMMVLNSALTEVSEDSTTGEDVLLSEGSVGKNKSSACRRKREFIPDEKKDAM YWEKRRKNNEAAKRSREKRRLNDLVLENKLIALGEENATLKAELLSLKLKFGLISSTAYAQEIQKLSNSTAVYFQ DYQTSKSNVSSFVDEHEPSMVSSSCISVIKHSPQSSLSDVSEVSSVEHTQESSVQGSCRSPENKFQI IKQEPMEL ESYTREPRDDRGSYTASIYQNYMGNSFSGYSHSPPLLQVNRSSSNSPRTSETDDGWGKSSDGEDEQQVPKGPIH SPVELKHVHATWKVPEVNSSALPHKLRIKAKAMQIKVEAFDNEFEATQKLSSPIDMTSKRHFELEKHSAPSMVH SSLTPFSVQVTNIQDWSLKSEHWHQKELSGKTQNSFKTGWEMKDSGYKVSDPENLYLKQGIANLSAEWSLKRL IATQPISASDSG

SEQ ID NO: 3 - REV-ERBa gene sequence (NM J)21724.4)

1 gggeaegagg cgctccctgg gatcacatgg tacctgctcc agtgccgcgt gcggcccggg

61 aaccctgggc tgctggcgce tgcgcagagc cctctg ccc agggaaaggc cgggeaaaa 121 ggcggctgag attggeagag tgaaatatta ctgccgaggg aacgtagcag ggcacacgtc 181 tcgcctcttt gcgactcggt gccGcgtttc tccccatcac etaettaett cctggttgca 241 acctctcttc ctetgggact tttgcaccgg gage eeaga cgccacce cgcagcgctg 301 cggagccggc aggeagagge accccgtaca ctgcagagac ccgaccctCG ttgctacctt 361 etagccagaa ctactgcagg ctgattcccc ctacacacte tctctgctct tcccatgcaa 421 agcagaactc cgttgcctca acgtccaacc e tetgeagg gctgcagtcc ggccacccca 481 agacct: tgct gcagggtgct tcggatcctg atcgtgagtc gcggggtcca ctcccc ccc 541 ttagccagtg cccagggggc aacagcggcg atcgcaacct ctagtttgag tcaaggtcca 601 gtttgaatga cegc c cag ctggtgaaga catgacgacc ctggactcca acaacaacac 661 aggtggcgtc atcacctaca ttggetccag tggctcc ee ccaagecgca ccagccctga 721 atccctctat agtgacaact ccaatggcag cttccagtcc ctgacccaag gctgtcccac 781 ctacttccca ccatccccca ctggctccct cacceaagac ccggctcgct cctttgggag 841 cattccaccc agcctgagtg atgacggctc cccttcttcc tcatcttcct cgtcgtcatc 901 cteeteetee ttctataatg ggagcceccc tgggagtcta eaagtggcea tggaggacag 961 cagccgagtg tcccccagca agagcaccag caacatcacc aagctgaatg gcatggtgtt 1021 ac g gtaaa gtgtgtgggg acgttgcctc gggcttccac tacggtgtgc acgcc cga 1081 gggctgcaag ggctttttcc gteggageat ccagcagaac atccagtaca aaaggtgtct 1141 gaagaatgag aattgctcca tcgtccgcat caatcgcaac cgctgccagc aatgtcgctt 1201 caagaagtgt ctctctgtgg gca gtctcg agacgctgtg cgttttgggc gcatccccaa 1261 acgagagaag cagcggatgc ttgctgagat gcagagtgcc atgaacctgg ccaacaacca 1321 gttgagcagc cagtgcccgc tggagacttc acccacccag caccccaccc caggccccat 1381 gggcccctcg ccaccccctg GtccggtccG ctcacccctg gtgggct: tct cccagtttcc 1441 acaacagctg acgcctccca gatccccaag GCCtgagcGG acagtggagg atgtgatatc 1501 ccaggtggcc cgggcccatc gagagatctt cacctacgcc catgacaagc gggcagc c 1561 acctggcaac ttcaatgcca accatgcatc aggtagccct Gcagecaeca ccccacatcg 1621 ctgggaaaat cagggctgcc cacctgcccc caatgacaac aacacc gg ctgcccagcg 1681 tcataacgag gccctaaa g gtctgcgcca ggctccctcc tcctaccctc ccacctggcc 1741 tcctggccct gcacaccaca gctgccacca gtccaacagc aacgggcacc gtctatgccc 1801 cacccacgtg ta gcagccc cagaaggcaa ggcacctgcc aacagtcccc ggcagggcaa 1861 ctcaaagaat gttctgctgg catgtcctat gaacatgtac ccgcatggac gcagtgggcg 1921 aacggtgcag gagatc ggg aggat: ttctc catgagcttc acgcccgctg tgcgggaggt 1981 ggtagagttt gccaaacaca tcccgggctt ccgtgacctt tctcagcatg accaagtcac 2041 cctgcttaag gctggcacct ttgaggtgct gatggtgcgc tttgcttcgt tgttcaacgt 2101 gaaggaccag acagtgatgt tcctaagccg caccacctac agcctgcagg agcttggtgc 2161 catgggcatg ggagacctgc tcagtgccat gttcgacttc agegagaage tcaactccct 2221 ggcgcttacc gaggaggagc tgggcctctt caccgcggtg gtgct g ct ctgcagaccg 2281 ctcgggcatg gagaattccg cttcggtgga gcagctccag gagacgctgc tgcgggctct 2341 tcgggctctg gtgctgaaga accggccct: t ggagacttcc cgcttcacca agctgc gct 2401 caagctgccg gacctgcgga ccctgaacaa catgcattcc gagaagctgc tgtccttccg 2461 ggtggacgcc cagtgacccg cccggccggc cttctgccgc tgcccccttg tacagaatcg 2521 aactctgcac ttctctctcc tttacgagac gaaaaggaaa agcaaaccag aatcttattt 2581 atattgttat aaaatattcc aagatgagcc tctggcccGG tgageettet tgtaaatacc 26 1 tgcc ccctc ccccatcacc gaacttcccc tcctccccta tttaaaccac tctgtctccc 2701 ccacaaccct ccGGtggccc tctgatttgt tctgttcctg tctcaaatcc aatagttcac 2761 agctgagc g gcttcaaaaa

SEQ D NO: 4 - REV-ERBa amino acid sequence (NM_021724.4)

MTTLDSNNNTGGVITYIGSSGSSPSRTSPESLYSDNSNGSFQSLTQGCPTYFPPSPTGSLTQDPARSFGSIPPSL

SDDGSPSSSSSSSSSSSSFYNGSPPGSLQVAMEDSSRVSPSKSTSNITKLNG VLLCKVCGDVASGFHYGVHACE

GCKGFFRRSIQQNIQYKRCLKNENCSIVRINRNRCQQCRFKKCLSVGMSRDAVRFGRIPKREKQRMLAEMQSAMN

LANNQLSSQCPLETSPTQHPTPGPMGPSPPPAPVPSPLVGFSQFPQQLTPPRSPSPEPTVEDVISQVARAHREIF

TYAHDKLGSSPGNFNANHASGSPPATTPHRWENQGCPPAPNDNNTLAAQRHNEALNGLRQAPSSYPPT PPGPAH

HSCHQSNSNGHRLCPTHVYAAPEGKAPANSPRQGNSKNVLLACPMNMYPHGRSGRTVQEI EDFSMSFTPAVREV

VEFAKHIPGFRDLSQHDQVTLLKAGTFEVLMVRFASLFNVKDQTVMFLSRTTYSLQELGAMGMGDLLSAMFDFSE

KLNSLALTEEELGLFTAWLVSADRSGMENSASVEQLQETLLRALRALVLKNRPLETSRFTKLLLKLPDLRTLNN

MHSEKLLSFRVDAQ

SEQ ID NO: 5 - REV-ERBp gene sequence (AB307693.1)

1 atggaggtga atgeaggagg tgtgattgcc tatatcagtt cttccagctc agcctcaagc

61 cctgcctctt gtcacagtga gggttctgag aatagtttcc agtcctcctc ctcttctgtt

121 ccatcttctc caaatagctc taattctgat accaatggta atcccaagaa tggtgatctc

181 gccaatattg aaggeatett gaagaatgat egaatagatt gttctatgaa aacaagcaaa

241 tegagtgeae ctgggatgac aaaaaatcat agtggtgtga caaaatt: tag tggcatggtt

301 ctactgtgta aagtctgtgg ggatgtggcg tcaggattcc actatggagt teatgettge

361 gaaggctgta agggtttctt teggagaagt attcaacaaa acatccagta caagaagtgc

421 ctgaagaatg aaaactgttc tataatgaga atgaatagga acagatgtca gcaatgtcgc

481 t caaaaagt gtctgtctgt tggaatgtca agagatgetg ttcggtttgg tcgtattcct

541 aagcgtgaaa aacagaggat gctaattgaa a gcaaag g caatgaagac catgatgaac

601 agccagttca gtggtcactt gcaaaatgac acattagtag aacatcatga acagacagcc

661 ttgccagccc aggaacagct gcgacccaag ccccaactgg agcaagaaaa catcaaaagc

721 tcttctcctc catcttctga ttttgcaaag gaagaagtga ttggcatggt gaccagagct 781 cacaaggata cctttatgta taatcaagag cagcaagaaa act cagctga gageatgeag 841 ccccagagag gagaacggat tcccaagaac atggagcaat ataatttaaa tcatgatcat 901 tgcggcaatg ggcttagcag ccattttccc tgtagtgaga gccagcagca tctcaatgga 961 cagttcaaag ggaggaatat aatgcattac ccanatggcc atgccatttg tattgcaaat 1021 ggacattgta tgaacttctc caatgcttat actcaaagag tatgtgatag agttccgata 1081 gatggatttt ctcagaatga gaacaagaat agttacctgt gcaacactgg aggaagaatg 1141 catctggttt gtccaatgag taagtctcca tatgtggatc ctcataaatc aggacatgaa 1201 atctgggaag aattttcgat gagct cact ccagcagtga aagaagtggt ggaatttgca 1261 aagcgtattc ctgggttcag agatctctct cagcatgacc aggtcaacct tttaaaggct 1321 gggact ttg aggt ttaat ggtacggttc gcateat tat ttgatgcaaa ggaacgtact 1381 gtcacctttt taagtggaaa gaaatatagt gtggatgatt tacactcaat gggagcaggg 1441 gatctgctaa actctatgtt tgaatttagt gagaagetaa atgccct cca aettagtgat 1501 gaagagatga gtttgtttac agctgttgtc c ggtatctg cagatcgatc tggaatagaa 1561 aacgtcaact ctgtggaggc tttgcaggaa actctcattc gtgcactaag gaccttaata 1621 atgaaaaacc atccaaatga ggcctctatt tttacaaaac tgcttctaaa gttgccagat 1681 cttcgatctt taaacaacat gcactctgag gagetettgg cctttaaagt tcacccttaa

SEQ ID NO: 6 - REV-E Bb amino add sequence (AB307693.1)

MEVNAGGVIAYISSSSSASSPASCHSEGSENSFQSSSSSVPSSPNSSNSDTNGNPKNGDLANIEGILKNDRIDCS MKTSKSSAPGMTKNHSGVTKFSGMVLLCKVCGDVASGFHYGVHACEGCKGFFRRSIQQNIQYKKCLKNENCSIMR MNRNRCQQCRFKKCLSVGMSRDAVRFGRIPKREKQRMLIEMQSAMKTMMNSQFSGHLQNDTLVEHHEQTALPAQE QLRPKPQLEQENIKSSSPPSSDFAKEEVIGMVTRAHKDTFMYNQEQQENSAESMQPQRGERIPKNMEQYNLNHDH CGNGLSSHFPCSESQQHLNGQFKGRNIMHYPXGHAICIANGHCMNFSNAYTQRVCDRVPIDGFSQNENKNSYLCN TGGRMHLVCPMSKSPYVDPHKSGHEIWEEFSMSFTPAVKEVVEFAKRIPGFRDLSQHDQVNLLKAGTFEVLMVRF ASLFDAKERTVTFLSGKKYSVDDLHSMGAGDLLNSMFEFSEKLNALQLSDEEMSLFTAVVLVSADRSGIENVNSV EALQETLIRALRTLIMKNHPNEASIFTKLLLKLPDLRSLNNMHSEELLAFKVH

SEQ ID NO: 7 - Delta-like ligand 4 gene sequence (AF253468.1)

1 atggcggcag cgtcccggag cgcctctggc tgggcgctac tgctgctggt ggcactttgg

61 cagcagcgcg cggccggctc cggcgtcttc cagctgcagc tgcaggagtt catcaacgag 121 cgcggcgtac tggccagtgg gcggccttgc gagcccggct geeggaettt cttccgcgtc 181 tgeettaage acttccaggc ggtegteteg cccggaccct gcaccttcgg gaccgtctcc 241 acgccggtat tgggcaccaa ctccttcgct gtccgggacg acagtagcgg cggggggcgc 301 aaccctctcc aactgccctt caatttcacc tggccgggta ccttctcgct catcatcgaa 361 gcttggcacg cgccaggaga cgacctgcgg ccagaggcct tgccaccaga tgcactcatc 421 agcaag tcg ccatccaggg ctccctagct gtgggtcaga actggttatt ggatgagcaa 481 accagcaccc tcacaaggct gcgctactct taccgggtca tctgcagtga caact actat 541 ggagacaact gctcccgcct gtgcaagaag cgcaatgacc acttcggcca ctatgtgtgc 601 cagccagatg gcaacttgtc ctgcctgccc ggttggactg gggaatattg ccaacagcct 661 atctgtcttt cgggctgtca tgaacagaat ggctactgca gcaagccagc agagtgcctc 721 tgccgcccag gctggcaggg ccggctgtgt aaegaatgea tcccccacaa tggctgtcgc 781 cacggcacct gcagcactcc ctggcaatgt ac tgtgatg agggctgggg aggcctgttt 841 tgtgaccaag atctcaacta ctgcacccac cactccccat gcaagaatgg ggcaacgtgc 901 tccaacagtg ggeagegaag ctacacctgc acctgt egee caggctacac tggtgtggac 961 tgtgagctgg agctcagcga gtgtgacagc aacccctgtc gcaatggagg cagctgtaag 1021 gaccaggagg atggctacca ctgcctgtgt cctccgggct actatggcct gcattgtgaa 1081 cacagcacc tgagctgcgc cgactccccc tgcttcaatg ggggctcctg ccgggagcgc 1141 aaccaggggg ccaactatgc ttgtgaatgt ccccccaact tcaccggctc caactgcgag 1201 aagaaagtgg acaggtgcac cagcaacccc tgtgccaacg ggggacagtg cctgaaccga 1261 ggtccaagcc gcatgtgccg ctgccgtcct ggattcacgg gcacctactg tgaactccac 1321 gt cagcgact gtgcccgtaa cccttgcgcc cacggtggca cttgccatga cctggagaat 1381 gggctcatgt gcacctgccc tgccggcttc tctggccgac gctgtgaggt gcggacatcc 1441 atcgatgcct gtgcctcgag tccctgcttc aacagggcca cctgctacac cgacctctcc 1501 acagacacct: ttgtgtgcaa ctgcccttat ggctttgtgg gcagccgctg cgagttcccc 1561 gtgggcttgc cgcccagctt cccctgggtg gccgtctcgc tgggtgtggg gctggcagtg 1621 ctgctggtac tgctgggcat ggtggcagtg gctgtgcggc agctgcggct tcgacggccg 1681 gacgacggca gcagggaagc catgaacaac ttgtcggact tccagaagga caacctgatt 1741 cctgccgccc agcttaaaaa cacaaaccag aagaaggage tggaagtgga ctgtggcctg 1801 gacaagtcca actgtggcaa acagcaaaac cacacattgg actataatct ggeGecaggg 1861 cccctggggc gggggaccat gccaggaaag tttccccaca gtgacaagag ettaggagag 1921 aaggcgccac tgcggttaca cagtgaaaag ccagagtgtc ggatatcage gatatgctcc 1981 cccagggact ccatgtacca gtctgtgtgt ttgatatcag aggagaggaa tgaatgtgtc 2041 attgccacgg aggtataa

5EQ ID NO: 8- Delta-like ligand 4 amino add sequence (AF253468.1)

MAAASRSASGWALLLLVALWQQRAAGSGVFQLQLQEFINERGVLASGRPCEPGCRTFFRVCLKHFQAWSPGPCT FGTVSTPVLGTNSFAVRDDSSGGGRNPLQLPFNFTWPGTFSLI IEAWHAPGDDLRPEALPPDALISKIAIQGSLA VGQNWLLDEQTSTLTRLRYSYRVICSDNYYGDNCSRLCKKRNDHFGHYVCQPDGNLSCLPGWTGEYCQQPICLSG CHEQNGYCSKPAECLCRPG QGRLCNECIPHNGCRHGTCSTPWQCTCDEGWGGLFCDQDLNYCTHHSPCKNGATC SNSGQRSYTCTCRPGYTGVDCELELSECDSNPCRNGGSCKDQEDGYHCLCPPGYYGLHCEHSTLSCADSPCFNGG SCRERNQGANYACECPPNFTGSNCEKKVDRCTSNPCANGGQCLNRGPSRMCRCRPGFTGTYCELHVSDCARNPCA HGGTCHDLENGLMCTCPAGFSGRRCEVRTSIDACASSPCFNRATCYTDLSTDTFVCNCPYGFVGSRCEFPVGLPP SFPWVAVSLGVGLAVLLVLLGMVAVAVRQLRLRRPDDGSREAMNNLSDFQKDNLIPAAQLKNTNQKKELEVDCGL DKSNCGKQQNHTLDYNLAPGPLGRGTMPGKFPHSDKSLGEKAPLRLHSEKPECRISAICSPRDSMYQSVCLISEE RNECVIATEV

SEQ ID NO: 9 - Human Notchl cDNA sequence (CR457221.1)

1 atgtcaaaca tgagatgtgt ggactgtggc acttgcctgg gtcacacacg gaggcatcct

61 acccttttct ggggaaagac actgcctggg Gtgaccccgg tggcggcccc agcacctcag

121 cctgcacagt gtcccccagg ttccgaagaa gatgctccag caacacagcc tgggccccag

181 ctcgcgggac ccgacccccc gtgggctccc gtgttttgta ggagacttgc cagagccggg

241 cacattgagc tgtgcaacgc cgtgggctgc gtcctttggt cctgtccccg cagccctggc

301 agggggcatg cggtcgggca ggggctggag ggaggcgggg gctgcccttg ggccacccct

361 cctagtttgg gaggageaga tttttgcaat accaagtata gcctatggca gaaaaaatgt

421 ctttaa

SEQ ID NO: 10 - Human Notchl protein sequence (CR457221.1)

MSNMRCVDCGTCLGHTRRHPTLFWGKTLPGLTPVAAPAPQPAQCPPGSEEDAPATQPGPQLAGPDPPWAPVFCRR

LARAGHIELCNAVGCVLWSCPRSPGRGHAVGQGLEGGGGCPWATPPSLGGADFCNTKYSLWQKKCL

EXAMPLES

The invention will be further clarified by the following examples, which are intended to be purely exemplary of the invention and are in no way limiting.

Example 1 - design of new compounds

Maintaining unaltered the core SR8278 scaffold and the ester substituent, we first designed compounds 1-3 in which the thiophene ring was replaced by a substituted benzene ring. The analysis and characterization of these compounds drove the design of subsequent compounds: 4-5 with a!koxy chains, 6-10 with simple heteroaromatic 5-member rings and 11-13 with hindered heteroaromatic 5-member rings. The synthesis of these compounds, together with their characterisation, is described in the relevant sections below. All compounds were synthesised and studied as racemates (as is consistent with the literature on SR8278 and derivatives).

Scheme 1: General synthesis of compounds 1-13:



Reaction conditions: (a) EtGH, cone H2S04, reflux, overnight (b) For A = Cl, TEA, DCM, rt, overnight; for A = OH, EDC, HOBt, TEA, DMF, rt, overnight

Ethyl ester 14 was obtained following a similar procedure to the one described for the preparation of 1, by esterification of the carboxylic add in methanol (MeOH) using sulfuric acid as catalyst, and condensation of intermediate 16 with 3,4-dichlorobenzoy! chloride using TEA as a base. Compound 15 was prepared starting from 1. Hydrolysis of the ester group was performed using basic conditions and introduction of the amide group was achieved by an EDC/HOBt coupling with ethanolamine, as previously described.

Scheme 2: Synthesis of compounds 14 and 15

Synthesis conditions: (a) MeOH, H2SG4, reflux overnight: (b) 3,4-dich!orobenzoyl chloride, TEA, DMC, rt, overnight: (c) NaOH 2.0 M, MeOH:H20 (80:20), rt, 4h; (d) Ethylamine, EDC, HOBt, TEA, DMF, rt, overnight.

Compounds 16 to 63 and 76 were obtained according to Scheme 3.

Scheme 3: Synthesis of compounds 16 to 63 and 76:


Reaction conditions: (a) EtOH, cone. H2S04, reflux, 16 hours, (b) T3P, DiPEA, THE, rt, 16 hours. Compounds 64 to 75 were obtained according to Scheme 4.

Scheme 4: General synthesis of compounds 64 to 75:


A solution of l,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline-3-carboxylic acid (1.00 g, 4.68mmol) in anhydrous ethanol (25 mL) at room temperature (rt) and under N2 atmosphere was treated with cc. H2S04 (1,00 ml., 7.15 mmol) and the reaction mixture was stirred under reflux for 18 h in the presence of molecular sieves 4 A, The solvent was removed under vacuo and the residue resuspended in ethyl acetate (EtOAc) (30 ml) and washed with saturated IMaHC03 (aq, 3 x 15 mL) and brine (3 x 15 ml.), dried (MgS04), filtered, and evaporated under reduced pressure. The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 3:1, Rf: 0.51) to yield Int. as a yellow oil (650 g, 67%). 1H-NMR (CDC!3) d = 7.20 - 7.12 (m, 3H, Ar), 7.09 - 7.04 (m, 1H, Ar), 4.26 (q, .1 = 7,1, 2H, H2), 4.17 (d, J = 16.2, 1H, H12i), 4.11(d, J = 16.2, 1H, H12ij), 3.76 (dd, J = 10.2, 4.6, 1H, H4), 3.12 (dd, J = 18.0, 16.2 , 1H, H5j), 2.98 (dd, J = 18.0, 16.2, 1H, H5ji), 2.13 (s, 1H, NH), 1.33 (t, J = 7.1, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm

(CDCy d = 173.21 (C3), 135.90, 133.82, 129.34, 126.38, 126.26, 126.20, 60.68 (C2), 55.55 (C4), 46.97 (C12), 31.50 (C5), 14.57 (C ; LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 1.73 min; m/z 206.29 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M÷H]+ C12H16N02: 206.1181; found: 206.1175.

A solution of Int. (200 mg, 0.964 mmol) in DCM (20 mL) at 0 ° and under !M2 atmosphere was treated with TEA (0.20 ml, 1.4 mmol). To this mixture, a solution of 3,4-dich!orobenzoyl chloride (202 mg, 0.964 mmol) in DCM (5 mL) was added dropwise and the reaction mixture was allowed to warm to rt overnight. The solvent was removed under vacuo and the residue resuspended in ethyl acetate (EtOAc) (30 ml) and washed 1.0M HCI (2x15 mL), NaHC03 (3 x 15 mL) and brine (3 x 15 mL), dried (MgS04), filtered, and evaporated under reduced pressure. The crude was purified by-chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 5:1, Rf: 0.40) to obtain 1 as a white solid (225 mg; yield: 62%). Ratio of rotamers is 5.4:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1H-NMR ((CD3)2SO) Rotamer A d = 7.81 (d, J = 8.2, 1H, H18), 7.72 (s, 1H, H15), 7.47 (d, J = 8.2, 1H, H19), 7.33 -7.09 (m, 4H, H7-1Q), 5.12 (t, J = 5.3, 1H, H4), 4.59 (d, J =15.6, 1H, H12i), 4.52 (d, J = 15.6, 1H, H12ii), 4.06 (q, J = 7.0, 2H, H2), 3.28 (m, 2H, H5), 1.11 (t, J = 7.0, 3H, HI). Rotamer B 6 = 7.76 (d, J = 8.2, 1H, H18), 7.67 (s, 1H, H15), 7.40 (d, J = 8.2, 1H, H19), 7.33 - 7.09 (m, 4H, H7-10), 4.97 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, H12i), 4.80 (br, 1H, H4), 4.46 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, H12ii), 3.98 (q, J = 7.0, 2H, H2), 3.18 (m, 2H, H5), 1.00 (t, J = 7.0, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm {(CD3)2SO) d = 170.27 (C3), 170.09 (C3), 168.56 (C13), 167.76 (C13), 136.38, 136.16, 133.11, 132.75, 132.49, 131.90, 131.61, 131.56, 131.10, 128.94, 128.62, 128.28, 127.81, 127.16, 126.77, 126.66, 126.54, 125.97, 61.20 (C2), 60.75 (C2), 56.21 (C4), 52.72 (C4), 47.45 (C12), 43.09 (C12), 30.66 (C5), 30.18 (C5), 13.95 (Cl), 13.83 (Cl); LC-MS (50-98% MeCN) rt = 7.49 min; m/z 378.26 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+H]+ C19H1SN03CI2: 378.0664; found: 378 0677


Compound 2 was prepared from Int. (500 mg, 2.41 mmol) according to procedure described for compound 1, using 3,4- dif!uorobenzoyl chloride (0.30 mL, 2 4 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 5:1, Rf: 0.37) to obtain 2 as a pale-yellow oil that crystallizes with time (547 mg; yield: 66%). Ratio of rotamers is 5:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. I H-NMR ((CD3)2SO) Rotamer A d = 7 63-7.05 (m, 8H), 5.09 (t, J = 5.3, 1H, H4), 4.58 (d, J =15.6, 1H, H12i), 4.51 (d, J = 15.6, 1H, H12ii), 4.04 (q, j = 6.9, 2H, H2), 3.25 (dd, J = 15.8, 5.9, 2H, H5), 1.09 (t, J = 7.0, 3H, HI). Rotamer B d = 7.63 - 7.05 (m, 8H), 4.95 (d, j = 17.6, 1H, H12i), 4.78 (br, 1H, H4), 4.42 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, H12ii), 3.96 (q, J = 7.0, 2H, H2), 3.16 (m, 2H, H5), 0.97 (t, J = 7.0, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3J2SO) d = 170.34 (C3), 170.09 (C3), 168.84 (C13), 167.96 (C13), 150.35 (C16), 150.25 (C16), 148.39 (C17), 148.28 (C17), 133.17, 133.00, 132.78, 131.88, 131.65, 129.36, 128.32, 127.84, 127.46, 127.16, 126.66, 126.56, 125.94, 124.42, 123.94, 118.15, 118.01, 116.76, 116.62, 116.41, 116.27, 61.19 (C2), 60.73 (C2), 56.24 (C4), 52.78 (C4), 47.56 (C12), 43.12 (C12), 30.63 (C5), 30.21 (C5), 13.95 (Cl), 13.81 (Cl). LC-MS (50-98% MeCIM) rt = 7.31 min; m/z 346.22 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): caicd for iM+Hj+ C19H18N03F2: 346.1255; found: 346.1264.

Ethyl 2~{4-fluombemoyl)-lf2,3,4~tetrahydmssoquinolme-3~ carboxy!ate ·, compound 3.

Compound 3 was prepared from Int. (330 mg, 1.59 mmol) according to procedure described for compound 1, using 4- fluorobenzoyl chloride (0.19 mL, 1.6 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 3:1, Rf: 0.21) followed by a slow gradient of n-Hex:EtOAc on Isolera (2-98% EtOAc) to obtain 3 as a transparent oil that crystallizes with time (315 mg; yield: 61%). Ratio of rotamers is 5.4:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1H-NMR ((CD3)2SO) Rotamer A d = 7.64 - 7.03 (m, 8H, Ar), 5.15 (t, J = 4.7, 1H, H4), 4.62 (d, J = 16.0, 1H, H12i), 4.54 (d, J = 16.0, 1H, H12ii), 4.07 (q, J = 6.7, 2H, H2), 3.28 (dd, J = 15.8, 5.9, 2H, H5), 1.12 (t, J = 6.7, 3H, HI). Rotamer B d = 7.64 - 7.03 (m, 8H, Ar), 5.01 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, H12i), 4.78 (br, 1H, H4), 4.48 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, H12ii), 3.97 (q, J = 6.7, 2H, H2), 3.18 (m, 2H, H5), 0.99 (t, J = 6.7, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SG) d = 170.47 (C3), 170.23 (C3), 170.14 (C13), 169.19 (C13), 133.25, 132.86, 131.84, 129.53, 129.11, 128.30, 127.88, 127.14, 126.66, 125.87, 115.76, 115.59, 61.14 (C2), 60.68 (C2), 56.33 (C4), 52.70 (C4), 47.67 (C12), 43.13 (C12), 30.75 (C5), 30.19 (C5), 13.96 (Cl), 13.82 (Cl). LC-MS (50-98% MeCN) rt = 6.42 min; m/z 328.21 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): caicd for [M+HJ+ C19H19NQ3F: 328.1349; found: 328.1349.


Compound 4 was prepared from !nt. (110 mg, 0.530 mmol) according to procedure described for compound 1, using ethyl chloroformate (0.05 ml, 0.5 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 3:2, Rf: 0.36 ) to obtain 4 as a pale-yellow oil (235 mg; yield: 87%). Ratio of rotamers is 5:4, obtained from 1 H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1H-NMR ((CD3)2SO) Rotamer A d = 7.24 - 7.07 (m, 4H, H7-10), 5.13 (dd, J = 6.0, 3.2, 1H, H4), 4 77 - 4.73 (d, J = 16 0, 2 H, H12i), 4.57 - 4.53 (d, j = 16.0, 2.H, H12ii), 4.21 (m, 2, H14), 4.07 (m, 2H, H2), 3.2.8 - 3.15 (dd, J = 38.0, 16.0, 2H, H5), 1.33 (t, J = 7.1, 3H, H15), 1.11 (m, 3H, HI). Rotamer B d = 7.24 - 7.07 (m, 4H, H7-10), 4.90 (m, 1H, H4), 4.78 - 4.74 (d, j = 16.0, 2H, H12i), 4.60 - 4.56 (d, J = 16.0, 2H, H12ii), , 4.21 (m, 2H, H14), 4.07 (m, 2H, H2), 3.27 - 3.13 (dd, J = 38.0, 16.0, 2H, H5), 1.25 (t, J = 7.1, 3H, H15), 1.11 (m, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) d = 167.59 (C3), 157.21 (C13), 144.65, 132.04, 129.82, 127.90,

127.13, 126.65, 68.56, 66.62, 61.13 , 53.93 (C4), 44.59 (C12), 31 33 (C5), 14.41 (C15), 14.32 (Cl). LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 10.35 min; m/z 278.21 ([M+HJ+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for (M+Hj+ C15H20NO4: 278.1392; found: 278.1396.

2-Tert-buty! 3-ethyl 3,4~dihydro!soqusno!ine-2,3{lH)-dkarboxylote , compound 5.

Compound 5 was prepared from Int (200 mg, 0.964 mmol) in dry THF (20 ml) using di-tert-butyl decarbonate (Boc anhydride) (252 mg, 1.15 mmol) and TEA (0.20 mL, 1.5 mmol). The reaction mixture was stirred at rt overnight under IM2 atmosphere. The solvent was removed under vacuo and the residue resuspended in ethyl acetate (EtOAc) (30 ml) and washed with saturated NaHC03 (aq, 3 x 15 mL) and brine (3 x 15 mL), dried (MgS04), filtered, and evaporated under reduced pressure. The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 5:1, Rf: 0.56) to yield 5 as a transparent oil (233 mg; yield: 79%). Ratio of rotamers is 5:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1H-NMR ((CD3)250) Rotamer A d = 7.37 - 6.97 (m, 4H, Ar), 4.72 - 4.64 (t, J = 4.7, 1H, H4), 4.66 - 4.38 (m, 2H, H12), 4.06 - 4.01 (m, 2H, H2), 3.20- 3.04 (dd, j = 48.0, 15.1, 1H, H5i), 3.3.21 - 3.03 (dd, J = 60.0, 12.1, 1H, H5ii), 1.39 (s, 9H, H15), 1.08 (t, J = 7.1, 3H, HI). Rotamer B d = 7.37 - 6.97 (m, 4H, Ar), 4.91 (t, J = 4.7, 1H, H4), 4.66 - 4.38 (m, 2H, H12), 4.01 - 3.95 (q, J = 8.0, 4.0, 2H, H2), 3.14 (d, J = 4.6, 2H, H5), 1.47 (s, 9H, H15), 1.06 - 1.01 (t, J = 7.1, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SG) d = 171.95 (C3), 171.48 (C3), 155.08 (C13), 154.52 (C13), 134.44, 133.44, 133.08, 132.40, 128.57, 128.08, 127.33, 127.10, 126.65, 126.55, 80.24 (C14), 80.04 (C14), 61.03 (C2), 54.50 (C4), 52 95(C4), 44.76 (C12), 44.15 (C12), 31.44 (C5), 31.22 (C5), 28.52 (CIS), 28.35 (C15), 14.50 (Cl), 14.40 (Cl). LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 7.59 min; m/z 306.31 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+H]+ C17H24IM04: 306.1705; found: 306.1707.


Compound 6 was prepared from Int. (230 mg, 1.11 mo!) according to procedure described for compound 1, using 2-thiopbene carbonyl chloride (0.13 i., 1.2 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography fn-Hex to EtOAc, 3:1, Rf: 0.31) followed by a reverse phase isolera with a slow gradient of H20:MeCN (2-98% MeCN) (271 mg; yield: 77%) to obtain 6 as a yellow oil (145 mg; yield: -). Ratio of rotamers is 5:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1HNMR (fCD3)2SG) degrades very quickly, not possible to assess NMR; 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) degrades very quickly, not possible to assess IMMR. LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 11 09 min; m/z 316.19 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+HJ+ C17H18N03S: 316.1007; found: 316.1016.

Ethyl 2-{furan~2-carbonyl}-l,2,3f4-tetrahydmi$oquinalme-3~ carboxy ate, compound 7.

A solution of 2-furoic acid (161 mg, 1.44 mmol) in DM F (20 mL) was treated with TEA (0.27 ml, 1.9 mmol), EDC coupling agent (257 mg, 1.34 mmol) and HOBt (181 mg, 1.34 mmol) and left stirring at rt for 5 min. To this mixture, Int. (200 mg, 0.960 mmol) was added and the reaction mixture was left stirring rt overnight under M2 atmosphere. 60 ml of dH20 were added to quench the reaction and the product was extracted with EtOAc (3 x 15 mL). All organic fractions were mixed together and washed with LiCI 5% (3 x 15 mL) to eliminate traces of DMF, MaHC03 (3 x 15 mL) and brine (3 x 15 mL), dried (MgSG4), filtered, and evaporated under reduced pressure. The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 3.5:1, Rf: 0.22) to obtain 7 as a pale-yellow oil (266 mg; yield: 93%). Ratio of rotamers was not possible to asses as the signals appeared in coalescence on 1H NMR at room temperature. 1HNMR ((CD3)2SO) d = 8.16 - 7.77 (d, J = 44.0, 1H, H15), 7.37 - 7.00 (m, 5H, H7-10, H16), ), 6.69 (d, J = 22.3, 1H, H17), 5.44 (br, 0.35H, H4b), 5.13 (br, 0.65H, H4a), 5.11 - 5.07 (d, j = 16.0, 0.6H, H12ai), 4.93 - 4.89 (d, J = 16.0, 0.6H, H12aii), 4.83 - 4.79 (d, J = 16.0, 0.4H, H12bi), 4.59 - 4.55 (d, j = 16.0, 0.4H, H12bii), 4.00 (m, 2H, H2), 3.24 (br, 2H, H5), 1.02 (s, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SQ) d = 171.30 (C3), 170.92 (C3), 159.86 (C13), 159.67 (C13), 147.67, 147.05, 146.03, 145.66, 133.65, 133,20, 132.87, 132.76, 128.26, 127.53, 127.24, 126.89, 126.61, 117.35 (C17), 116.87 (C17), 112.06 (C16), 61.38 (C2), 61.09 (C2), 55.92 (C4), 53.49 (C4), 47.09 (C12), 44.46 (C12), 32.11 (C5), 30,99 (C5), 14.37 (Cl); LC-M5 (20-98% MeCiM) rt = 4.16 min; m/z 300.33 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+HJ+ C17H18N04: 300,1236; found: 300.1247.

Ethyl 2~{isoxazole-5~carbonyl}~l,2,3,4~tetrahydroisoqu oline3~carboxylate, compound 8.

Compound 8 was prepared from Int, (375 mg, 1.82 mmol) according to procedure described for compound 1, using 5-carbonyl chloride (0,31 mL, 1.5 ol). The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 1:1, Rf: 0.73 and n-Hex to EtOAc, 3:1, Rf: 0.2.4) to obtain 8 as a pale-yellow oil (395 mg; yield: 69%). Ratio of rotamers is 4.7:4, obtained from 1 H NM R integrations at room temperature, 1H-NMR ((CD3J2SO) Rotamer A d = 8.82 (d, .! = 32.9, 1H, H16), 7.34 - 7.21 (m, 4H, H7- 10), 7.09 (d, J = 71.4, 1H, H15), 5,20 (m, 1H, H4), 4.93 - 4.89 (d, J = 15.7, 1H, H12i), 4.83 - 4.79 (d, J = 15.7, 1H, H12ii, 4.02 (m, 2H, H2), 3.26 (m, 2H, H5), 1.06 (t, j = 7.1, 3H, HI). Rotamer B d = 8.82 (d, J = 32.9, 1H, H16), 7.34 - 7.21 (m, 4H, H7-10), 7.09 (d, J = 71.4, 1H, H15), 5.20 (m, 1H, H4), 4.84 (m, 1H, H12i), 4.65 - 4.61 (d, .! = 15.7, 1H, H12ii), 4.02. (m, 2H, H2), 3.26 (m, 2H, MRes Drug Discovery & Development 2017 H5), 0.99 (t, J = 7.1, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3J2SO) d = 170.66 (C3), 170.32. (C3), 162.68 (C13), 162.20 (C13), 158.74 (C14), 158.30 (C14), 151.67 (C15), 151.54 (C15), 133.10, 132.53, 132.33, 128.39, 128.27, 127.77, 127.45, 127.34, 126.99, 126.64, 107.90 (C16), 107.56 (C16), 61.67 (C2), 61.32 (C2), 56.07 (C4), 53.67 (C4), 46.97 (C12), 44.51 (C12), 31.84 (C5), 30.80 (C5), 14.37 (Cl), 14 26 (Cl). LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 10.03 min; m/z 301.31 ί[M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+H] + C16H16IM204: 301.1188; found: 301.1189.

Ethyl 2~{oxazole-S-catbonyl)-1^2,3,4~tetrahydtossoquinolme-3~ carboxylate ·, compound 9.

Compound 9 was prepared from Int. (325 mg, 1.58 mmol) according to the EDC coupling procedure described for compound 7, using l,3-oxazole-5-carboxyiic acid (150 mg, 1.32 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 1.5:1, Rf: 0.42) followed by a slow gradient of H20:MeCN on reverse phase isolera (2-98% MeCN) to obtain 9 as a transparent oil (320 mg; yield: 68%). Ratio of rotamers was difficult to assess since most of the signals appear in coalescence. Some of the peaks appear separate and indicate a ratio 7.6:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1H-NMR ((CD3)2SQ) Rotamer A d = 8.67 (s, 1H, H15), 8.03 (s, 1H, H16), 7.32 - 7.21 (m, 4H, H7-10), 5.20 (t, j = 5.3, 1H, H4), 5.04 (d, J = 15.4, 1H, H12i), 4.92 (d, J = 15.5, 1H, H12ii), 4.06 - 3.95 (m, 2H, H2), 3.23 (br, 2H, H5), 1.01 (br, 3H, HI). Rotamer B d = 8.59 (s, 1H, H15), 7.75 (s, 1H, H16), 7.32 - 7.21 (m, 4H, H7-10), 5.40 (br, 1H, H4), 4.83 (d, J = 17.2, 1H, H12i), 4.59 (d, J = 17.2, 1H, H12ii), 4.06 - 3.95 (m, 2H, H2), 3.27 (br, 2H, H5), 1.01 (br, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) d = 170.99 (C3), 170.63 (C3), 158.75 (C13), 158.29 (C13), 154.28 (C15), 153.78 (C15), 144.89 (C14), 144.46 (C14), 133.19, 133.00, 132.74, 132.01, 131.36, 128.28, 127.60, 127.28, 126.94, 126.74, 61.57 (C2), 61.18 (C2), 55.82 (C4), 53.36 (C4), 46.81 (C12), 44.41 (C12), 31.96 (C5), 30.98 (C5), 14.53 (Cl), 14.34 (Cl). LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 8.95 min; m/z 301.31 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+H]+ C16H16N2Q4: 301.1188; found: 301.1201.


Compound 10 was prepared from Int. (286 mg, 1.39 mmol) according to the EDC coupling procedure described for compound 7, using l,3-thiazole-5-carboxylic acid (150 mg, 1.16 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography fn-Hex to EtOAc, 2:3, Rf: 0 37) to obtain 10 as a transparent oil (125 mg; yield: 35%). Ratio of rotamers was not possible to assess since peaks appear in coalescence in 1H IMMR at room temperature. 1H-NMR ((CD3)2SO) 6 = 9.32 (s, 1H, H15), 8.56 - 8.06 (m, 1H, H16), 7.29 - 7.18 (m, 4H, H7-10), 5.19 (s, 1H, H4), 4.96 (m, 1.7H, H12a, H12bi), 4.53 (d, J = 13.6, 0.3 H, H12bii), 4.01 (q, .1 = 8, 2H, H2), 3.24 (br, 2H, H5), 1.10 (br, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) d = 163.01 (C3), 162.10 (C3), 158.23 (C13), 157.49 (C13), 145.06 (C15), 143.68 (C15), 133.38, 133.05, 132.52, 129.36, 128 66, 128.27, 127.60, 127.24, 126 74, 125.77, 61.73 (C2), 61.19 (C2), 57.04 (C4), 53.86 (C4), 48.08 (C12), 44.45 (C12), 31.58 (C5), 31.02 (C5), 14.35 (Cl). LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 9.38 min; m/z 317.23 ([M+HJ+ ); HRMS (m/z): ca!cd for [M+HJ+ C16H17M203S: 317.0960; found:

317.0968.

Ethyl 2-{4-methyloxazole-S~carbonyl}~l/2f3,4-tetrabydmisoquinoline~3-carboxylate/ compound 11.

Compound 11 was prepared from Int. (291 mg, 1.42 mmol) according to the EDC coupling procedure described for compound 7, using 4-methy!oxazoie-5-carboxylic acid (150 mg, 1.52 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography (nHex to EtOAc, 1:1, Rf: 0.20) to obtain 11 as a transparent oil (216 mg; yield: 58%). Ratio of rotamers was difficult to assess since most of the signals appear in coalescence. Some of the peaks appear separate and indicate a ratio 4.7:4, obtained from 1H MMR integrations at room temperature. 1H-NMR ((CD3)2SO) d = 8.53 (s, 0.55H, H15a), 8.42 (s, 0.45H, H15b), 7.23 (br, 4H, H7-10), 5.26 (br, 0.45H, H4b), 5.07 (br, 0.55H, H4a), 4.92 (d, J = 16.0, 0.45H, H12bi), 4.80 (m, 1.1H, H12a), 4.56 (d, j = 16.0, 0.45H, H12bii), 4.03 (br, 2H, H2), 3.25 (m, 2H, H5), 2.33 (s, 3H, H17), 1.08 - 0.99 (m, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) d = 171.45 (C3), 170.74 (C3), 159.74 (C13), 158.01 (C13), 152.21 (CIS), 151.92 (CIS), 139.86, 139.39, 134.59, 134 08, 132 98, 132.44, 129.35, 128.65, 128 28, 127.89, 127.59, 127.23, 125.76, 61.23 (C2), 55.74 (C4), 53.53 (C4), 46.67 (C12), 44.38 (C12), 32.04 (C5), 30.74 (C5), 14.35 (Cl), 13.18 (C17). LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 9 55 min; m/z 315.28 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M÷H]+ C17H19N204: 315.1345; found:

315.1352.


Compound 12 was prepared from Int. (257 mg, 1 25 mmol) according to the EDC coupling procedure described for compound 7, using 4-methylthiazole-5-carboxylic acid (150 mg, 1.04 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography (nHex to EfOAc, 2:3, Rf: 0.43) to obtain 12 as a transparent oil (196 mg; yield: 60%). Ratio of rotamers was difficult to assess since most of the signals appear in coalescence. Some of the peaks appear separate and indicate a ratio 7.2:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1H-NMR {(CD3)2SO) = 9.18 (s, 1H, H15), 7.22 (m, 4H, H7-10), 5.16 (br, MRes Drug Discovery & Development 2017 0.65H, H4a), 4.97 (d, J = 15.5, 0.35H, H12bi), 4.84 (s, 0.35H, H4b), 4.56 (br, 1.65H, H12a+H12bii), 4.03 (br, 2H, H2), 3.22 ( , 2H, H5), 2.46 (br, 3H, H17), 1.11 (m, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) d = 170.67 (C3), 163.66 (C13), 154.96, 152.47, 133 41, 132.09, 12.8.34, 127.72, 127 19, 126.49, 124.79, 61.39 (C2), 53.52 (C4), 47.43 (02), 30.58 (C5), 16.25 (C17), 14.39 (Cl). LC-MS (20-98% eCN) rt = 9.59 min; m/z 330.94 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+H]+ C17H19N203S: 331 1116; found: 331.1130.

Ethyl 2-(4~m8thy~2-ph8nylthiazol8~5~carbonyl}~l,2f3,4-t8trahydroisoq! !nolme~3-carboxylat8, compound 13.

Compound 13 was prepared from Int. (240 mg, 1.17 mmol) according to the EDC coupling procedure described for compound 7, using 4-methy-2-phenylthiazo!e-5-carboxylic add (213 mg,

0 974 m ol). The crude was purified by chromatography fn-Hex to EtOAc, 5:2, Rf: 0 32) to obtain 13 as an orange oil (298 mg; yield: 75%). Ratio of rotamers was not possible to asses as the signals appeared in coalescence on 1H IMMR at room temperature. IH-NMR ((CD3)2SO) = 7.97 (br, 2H, H17+H21), 7.53 (m, 3H, H18-20), 7.23 (m, 4H, H7-10), 5.15 - 5.54 (m, 3H, H4+H12), 4.06 (br, 2H, H2), 3.24 (m, 2H, H5), 2.48 (s, 3H, H23), 1.11 (br, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) d = 170.60 (C3), 167.22 (C15), 153.10 (C13), 132.83, 131.30, 129.82, 128.40, 127.19, 126.75, 61.47 (C2), 53.57 (C4), 47.60 (C12), 30.68 (C5), 16.59 (C23), 14.40 (Cl). LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rf = 12.85 min; m/z 407.44 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+H]+ C23H23N203S: 407.1429; found: 407.1418.

Methyl 2-{3f4-dkhlorobemoyi)-l,2,3f4-tetrahydrolsoqulnorme-3-ccirboxyiatef compound 14.

Compound 14 was prepared from an intermediate after an esterification of 1,2,34-tetrahydroisoquinoline carboxylic acid (150 mg, 0.702 mmol) in methanol (10 L) following the procedure described for Int. 16 was used without further purification (90 mg, 0.47 mmol) following the previously described procedure for compound 1, using 3,4-chiorobenzoyi chloride (98 mg, 0.47 mmol). The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 2:1, Rf: 0.54) to obtain 14 as a white powder (123 g; yield: 73%). Ratio of rotamers is 5.4:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1HNMR ((CD3)2SO) Rotamer A d = 7.8 (d, J = 8.2, 1H, H18), 7.71 (s, 1H, H14), 7.47 (d, J = 8.1, 1H, H17), 7.28-7.10 (m, 4H, H6-9), 5.17 (t, J = 8, 1H, H3), 4.56 (dd, J = 24.0, 16.0, 2H, Hll), 3.62 (s, 3H, HI), 3.28 (dd, J = 16.0, 6.1, 2H, H4). Rotamer B d = 7.74 (d, J = 8.2, 1H, H18), 7.69 (s, 1H, H14), 7.40 (d, J = 8.1, 1H, H17), 7.28 - 7.10 (m, 4H, H6-9), 5.01 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, Hill), 4.84 (br, 1H, H3), 4.42 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, Hllii), 3.53 (s, 3H, HI), 3.22 - 3.12 (m, 2H, H4); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) d = 171.32 (C2), 171.14 (C2), 169.03 (C12), 168.26 (C12), 136.76, 136.58, 133.47, 133.28, 133.16, 132.26, 132.08, 131.56, 129.46, 129.17, 128.81, 128.36, 127.67, 127.15, 126.45, 56.64 (C3), 55.36 (C3), 53.05 (Cl), 52.70 (Cl), 47.88 (Cll), 4.3.40 (Cll), 30 95 (C4), .30.52 (C4). LC-MS (20-98% MeCH) rt = 12.44 min; m/z 364.2.8 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+H]+ C18H16N03CI2: - 364 0507; found:

364.0499

2-f354-Dich!oroberizoyI}-lf2,3,4~telrahydroisoqyiriolirie-3-carboxviic add, intermediate 17.

Intermediate 17 was prepared from compound 1 (250 mg, 0.663 mmol) following a hydrolysed under basic conditions 1 is dissolved in MeOH:H20 (80:20) (15 ml.) and NaQH 2 0 M (7.5 ml.) was added dropwise to the mixture. The reaction mixture was left stirring at rt for 5 h. The solvent was removed under vacuum and the residue was resuspended in wafer (30 mL). The mixture was acidified to pH 4 with HCi 1.0 M and the product was extracted with EtOAc (3 x 15 mL) and washed with brine (3 x 15 mL), dried (MgS04), filtered, and solvent was evaporated under reduced

pressure. 17 was obtained as a white solid (230 mg; yield: 100%) used without further purification. Ratio of rotamers is 1:1, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature 1H-NMR ((CD3)250) Rotamer A d = 12.98 (s, 1H, OH), 7.78 (d, J = 15.7, 1H, H16), 7.68 (s, 1H, H13), 7.44 (d, J = 23.0, 1H, H17), 7.31 - 7.08 (m, 4H, H5-8), 5.14 (t, J = 4.8, 1H, H2), 4.54 (s, 2H, H10), 3.27 - 3.09 (m, 2H, H3). Rotamer B d = 12.98 (s, 1H, OH), 7.76 (d, j = 15.7, 1H, H16), 7.66 (s, 1H, H13), 7.42 (d, J = 23.0, 1H, H17), 7.31 - 7.08 (m, 4H, H5-8), 4.97 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, HlOi), 4.68 (br, 1H, H2), 4.48 (d, J = 17.7, 1H, HlOii), 3.27 - 3.09 (m, 2H, H3); LC-MS (50-98% MeCN) rt = 4.99 min; m/z 350.25 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M+HJ+ C17H14N03CI2: 350.0351; found: 350.0356.

2-(3f4-Dlchlorobe oy!}-N-ethy!-l,2f3,4-tetr hydroisoq norme-3-carbox mide, compound IS.

Compound 15 was prepared form intermediate 17 A solution of 17 (100 mg, 0.286 mmol) in DMF (15 ml) was treated with TEA (0.080 mL, 0.57 mmol), EDC coupling agent (76.5 mg, 0.400 mmol) and HOBt (54.1 mg, 0.400 mmol) and left stirring at rt for 5 min. To this mixture, Ethylamine 2.0 M (0.17 MRes Drug Discovery & Development 2017 mL, 0.34 mmol) was added and the reaction mixture was left stirring rt overnight under M2 atmosphere. 40 ml of dH2Q were added to quench the reaction and the product was extracted with EtOAc (3 x 15 mL). All organic fractions were mixed together and washed with LiCI 5% (3 x 15 mL) to eliminate traces of DMF, NaHCG3 (3 x 15 mL) and brine (3 x 15 L), dried (MgSQ4), filtered, and evaporated under reduced pressure. The crude was purified by chromatography (n-Hex to EtOAc, 1:1, Rf: 0.26) to obtain 15 as a pale-yellow oil (74 g; yield: 69%). Ratio of rotamers is 5.4:4, obtained from 1H NMR integrations at room temperature. 1H-NMR {(CD3)2SO) Rotamer A d = 7.94 (t, J = 5.5, 1H, NH), 7.79 (s, 1H, H15), 7.77 (d, J = 8.1, 1H, H19), 7.49 (d, J = 7.8, 1H, H18), 7.24 - 7.05 (m, 4H, H7-10), 4.88 (br, 1H, H4), 4.50 (m, 2H, H12), 3.11 (m, 2H, H5), 3.03 (q, J = 4.0, 2H, H2), 0.90 (t, J = 6.7, 3H, HI). Rotamer B d = 7.94 (t, J = 5.5, 1H, NH), 7.72. (d, J = 8.1, 1H, H19), 7.62 (s, 1H, H15), 7.36 (d, J = 7.8, 1H, H18), 7.24 - 7.05 (m, 4H, H7-10), 4.96 (d, j = 17.1, 1 H, H12i), 4.56 (m, 1H, H12ii), 4.36 (br, 1H, H4), 3.11 (m, 2.H, H5), 2,92 (m, 2H, H2), 0.81 (t, J = 6.7, 3H, HI); 13C/ppm ((CD3)2SO) d = 169.45 (C3), 169,14 (C3), 168.27 (C13), 167.97 (C13), 137.09, 136.64, 133,67, 133.47, 132.60, 132.44, 132.30, 132,17, 131.29, 130.98, 130.85, 129,23, 128,37, 128.03, 127.77, 127.48, 127.05, 126.70, 126.48, 126.34, 125.80, 56.88 (C4), 53.60 (C4), 47.68 ( C 12 ), 43,49 (C12), 33.53 (C2), 33.45 (C2), 31.64 (C5), 30,74 (C5), 14.73 (Cl), 14.56 (Cl); LC-MS (20-98% MeCN) rt = 10.87 min; m/z 377.18 ([M+H]+ ); HRMS (m/z): calcd for [M÷Hj+ C19H19N202CI2: 377.0824; found: 377.0821.

Example 2 - screening of compounds for REV-ERBa antagonist activity

HEK293T cells were defrosted and maintained in DMEM supplemented with 10% PCS and 1% P/S at 37 -C and 5% C02. Ceils were plated in a 24-well plate (7-104 cells/well in 0.5 ml of DMEM + 10% FCS). 24 h after seeding, cells were transfected with 100 ng of Bmal-iuc, 10 ng of pRL-CMV Reniila as an internal control and 10 ng of REV-ERBa or the empty vector pcDNAB as a control. All conditions were equalled to a total of 400 ng of DIMA by using BSM. In order to prepare transfection samples, calculated amounts of DMA needed for each condition were prepared in Opti-M EM and Fugene was added in a 5:2 Fugene:DIMA ratio. Mixtures were vortexed to assure homogeneity and left to incubate for 15 min at rt. Afterwards, each DMA mix was transferred into the 24-well plate containing the pre-seeded cells, with each condition repeated by triplicate. 5 h after transfection, cells were treated with compounds 2-12, AG1-AG5 or DMSO as vehicle. Solution of the compounds in DMEM were prepared at a double concentration than the final desired one, and 0.5 ml of these solutions were added to each well. 24 h after transfection, cells were lysed and luciferase activity was measured using Dual-Luciferase Reporter Assay System E2920 (Promega). To perform the experiment, cells were lysed by adding 50 pL of passive lysis buffer (PLB) (1:5 dilution) to each well and gently stirring for 30 min. Each cell lysate was transferred to a 96-weli plate. 50 pL of Dua!-G!o reagent were dispensed into each well, tapped gently to mix and incubated for 10 min. Luminescence of firefly luciferase was measured using a Tecan VICTOR Light Luminescent counter equipment. Then, 50 pL of Stop&Gio reagent were dispensed to quench firefly activity and activate Reniila luciferase, incubated for 10 min and measured. Firefly activity was normalized to Reniila luciferase activity. Results were analysed using Welch's corrected parametric t-test.

openSR


AG1


AG 2



2. The resulting data are shown in Figure 3, expressed as the average and standard error obtained from three independent experiments carried out in triplicate.

As is dear from Figure 3, compounds 4, 7, 8. 11 and 12 all produced a significant increase in luciferase expression compared with SR8278 (* for p<0.05, ** for p<Q.Ql, *** for p<Q.0Ql and **** for p O.OQQl), indicating that these are stronger REV-ERBot antagonists than SR8278.

Example 3 - screening of further compounds for REY-ERBot antagonist activity

The method of Example 2 was repeated using Compounds 70 to 72 (generated as described in Example 1). Compounds 4, 7 and 11 (tested in Example 2) were used as a positive control for REV-ERB inhibitory activity, agonist compound AG2 (also tested in Example 2) and DMSQ were also tested as comparators.

The resulting data are shown in Figure 4, expressed as the average and standard error obtained from two independent experiments carried out in triplicate. Compound 72 gave an observed inhibitory effect on REV-ERB greater than that obtained using SR8278, with the result being statistically significant (* for p<0.05, ** for p<0.01 and *** for p O.OOl), indicating that it is stronger REV-ERBa antagonists than SR8278.

Example 4 - screening of further compounds for REV-ERBot antagonist activity

The method of Example 2 was repeated using Compounds 64 to 66, 69 and 70 to 73 (generated as described in Example 1). Once again, Compounds 4, 7 and 11 (tested in Example 2) were used as a positive control for REV-ERB inhibitory activity, agonist compound AG2 (also tested in Example 2) and DMSO were also tested as comparators.

The resulting data are shown in Figure 5, expressed as the average and standard error obtained from three independent experiments carried out in triplicate. Inhibitory effect on REV-ERB was observed for all the compounds, and particularly with Compounds 71 to 73, with the results being statistically significant {* for p<0.05, ** for p<0.01, * ** for p<0.Q01 and **** for p O.QOQl).

Example 5 - screening of compounds for REV-ERBB antagonist activity

The method of Example 2 was repeated but with 10 ng of REV-ERB used in place of REV-ERBci. Compounds 4, 66, 69 and 73 were tested (generated as described in Example 1). Agonist compound AG2 and DMSO were also tested as comparators.

The resulting data are shown in Figure 6, expressed as the average and standard error obtained from three independent experiments carried out in triplicate. Inhibitory effect on REV -ERB was observed for ail the compounds, and particularly with Compounds 4, with the result being statistically significant (* for p<0.05 and * *** for p<Q.0Q01).

Example 6 - screening of further compounds for antagonist activity


The method of Example 2 was repeated using Compounds 16 to 19, 27, 28 and 44 (generated as described in Example 1). Once again, Compounds 4, 7 and 11 (tested in Example 2) were used as a positive control for REV-ERB inhibitory activity, agonist compound AG2 (also tested in Example 2) and DMSO were also tested as comparators.

The resulting data are shown in Figure 7, expressed as the average and standard error obtained from three independent experiments carried out in triplicate, inhibitory effect on REV-ERB was observed particularly with Compounds 27 and 28, with the results being statistically significant (* for p<0.05, *** for p O.OQl and **** p O.QOOl).

Example 7 - screening of further compounds for REV-ERBfH antagonist activity

The method of Example 5 was repeated using Compounds 18 and 19 (generated as described in Example 1). Agonist compound AGS and DMSO were also tested as comparators.

The resulting data are shown in Figure 8, expressed as the average and standard error obtained from two independent experiments carried out in triplicate, inhibitory effect on REV-ERB was observed for both compounds, {**** for p O.0001)

Example 8 - inhibitors of REV-ERBa increase the total number of K cells produced

Compounds 7 and 11 were screened along with SR8278.

Mice. AH mice used in this study were wild type on a C57BL/6 background, between six and twelve weeks old. All animal husbandry and experimental procedures were performed according to UK Home Office regulations and institute guidelines.

OP9 cell line and cell culture. OP9 is a stromal cell line from mouse bone marrow known to support lymphocyte differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors when co-culturing with them. OP9-GFP cells were cultured in Iscove's Modified Dulbecco's Medium (IMDM) (Sigma-Aldrich) supplemented with 20% Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) and 1% Peniciliin/Streptavidin (P/S). They were split into 24-we!i plates with 2500 ceils per well two days before transferring Lin- cells onto them. Cells were kept in a 5% C02 humidified atmosphere at 37 9C.

Lineage negative cells isolation from bone marrow. Mouse leg and hip bones were crushed in Phosphate Buffered Saline (PBS) with 2% FBS to release bone marrow cells. Ceil suspension was filtered through a 40 pm strainer, topped up to 40 mL with PBS + 2% FBS and centrifuged at 500 xg for 4 minutes. Ceils were resuspended in 2 mL PBS + 2% FBS and stained with phycoerythrin(PE)-conjugated cocktail (20 pL anti-B220 (RA3/6B2), 20 pL anti-CD2 (RM2-5), 20 pL anti-Terll9 (TER119), 20 pL anti-NKl.l (PK136), 5 pL anti-CDllb (M l/70) and 5 pL Grl (RB6-8C5) antibodies (ail from eBioscience) for 5 minutes at 4 °C. Then, cells were washed, centrifuged and incubated with anti-PE Microbeads (Miltenyi) for 15 minutes at 4 °C. Next, cells were washed with PBS and passed through LD column (Miltenyi), enabling the negative selection of unstained Lin- cells that flowed through the column. 50 pL of cells were taken to check the purity after depletion using flow cytometry.

In vitro NK cell development from lineage negative cells. Lin- cells were plated In 24-well plates with 5x10s cells in 1 mi. of Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium (DMEM) (Sigma-Aldrich) supplemented with 10% embryonic stem cell-qualified FBS (ES-FBS), 1% P/S, 50 mM b-Mercaptoethanol (b-ME), 10 ng/mi Flt3-!igand (FltBL.) (R&D Systems), 10 ng/ml. IL-7 (R&D Systems) and 100 ng/mL stem cell factor (SCF) (R&D Systems) per well and cultured for 2 days. Cells were transferred for co-culture with QP9-GFP stromal cells in 24-well plates with 3c10'( cells in 1 ml of Alpha MEM (Sigma-Aldrich) supplemented with 20% ES-FBS, 1% P/S, 50 M b-ME and 10 ng/ml. IL-15 (R&D Systems) per well and cultured for 7. Compounds were added on day 2, at the same time as cells were transferred together with OP9. Supernatant was removed on day 5, and new media was added with compound. Cells were kept in a 5% C02 humidified atmosphere at 37 9C.

Flow cytometry. After being cultured for 7 days, ceils were harvested, filtered through 40 mih strainers to remove OP9 cells and washed with PBS. After centrifuging at 500xg for 5 minutes at 4 °C, they were stained with appropriate fluorochrome conjugated antibodies with 1:300 dilution in 100 mΐ of fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS) buffer (PBS with 1% BSA) for 15 minutes at 4 °C in the dark. Antibodies include CD3(e450), NKl.l(APC), NKp46(Percp e710) and Pi, ail of which are anti mouse and from eBioscience. Ceils were then washed in 1 ml FACS buffer, centrifuged and resuspended in 300 pL FACS buffer. Compensation was set up using Anti-Mouse Ig, k and Anti-Rat/Hamster ig, k Compensation Particles Set (BDTM Combead). Flow cytometry analysis was carried out using BD LSRFortessaTM ceil analyser (Becton Dickinson Bioscience) and data analysis was performed using FlowJo.

Addition of 10mM of Compounds 7 and 11 both showed an increase in the total number of NK ceils compared with SR8278 with a significant increase in the case of Compound 7 (Figure 9) (* for p O.QS),

Example 8 - further inhibitors of REV-ERBa increase the total number of NK cells produced

The method of Example 7 was repeated using 5mM of Compounds 7 and 11, and 5 and 10mM of Compound 72.

Addition of 5mM of 7 and 11 as well as 5 and 10mM of Compound 72 showed a significant increase in the total number of NK cells compared with SR8278 (Figure 10) (** for p<0.01, *** for p O.001).