There is a need for an efficient and low-cost leading compound discovery mode. However, drug development remains slow, expensive, and risky. Here, this manuscript proposes a leading compound discovery strategy based on a combination of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) formulae and pharmacochemistry, using a ligustrazine–betulinic acid derivative (BA-12) in the treatment of angiogenesis as an example. Blocking angiogenesis to inhibit the growth and metastasis of solid tumors is currently one recognized therapy for cancer in the clinic. Firstly, based on a traditional Prunella vulgaris
plaster, BA-12 was synthesized according to our previous study, as it exhibited better antitumor activities than other derivatives on human bladder carcinoma cells (T24); it was then uploaded for target prediction. Secondly, the efficacy and biotoxicity of BA-12 on angiogenesis were evaluated using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), a quail chick chorioallantoic membrane, and Caenorhabditis elegans
. According to the prediction results, the main mechanisms of BA-12 were metabolic pathways. Thus, multiple metabolomics approaches were applied to reveal the mechanisms of BA-12. Finally, the predictive mechanisms of BA-12 on glutathione metabolism and glycerophospholipid metabolism activation were validated using targeted metabolomics and pharmacological assays. This strategy may provide a reference for highly efficient drug discovery, with the aim of sharing TCM wisdom for unmet clinical needs.
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