Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Among the oral anti-diabetic drugs used in the clinic are α-glucosidase inhibitors, which prevent hyperglycosemia by slowing digestion of starch and malto-oligosaccharides in the gut. Unfortunately, the use of these drugs often results in severe gastrointestinal side effects. Partial hydrolysis of starch is accomplished by salivary α-amylase, with principal cleavage provided by human pancreatic α-amylase (HPA) within the gut, generating linear and branched malto-oligosaccharides. Selective inhibitors targeting exclusively HPA, the first enzyme in the digestion cascade, would be of interest, since side effects that arise from inhibition of other α-glucosidases would be avoided. One attractive approach, envisaged here, would be the design of such selective irreversible inhibitors and activity-based probes (ABPs) by the use of epoxide, aziridine and cyclosulfate as electrophilic traps.
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