Description: This book describes a group of mammalian and non-mammalian peptidases and their inhibitors with proven and yet to be proven utility as therapeutic agents. The structural mechanisms that underly inhibitory activity are emphasized. Two introductory chapters on classes, mechanisms, and regulation provide some overview that is pertinent to more than one set of agents.
Purpose: The editors seek to stimulate the development of protease inhibitors that could be of therapeutic utility in common diseases. The book is essentially a "state-of-the-art" review as of late 2001 of the clinical use and needs for a selected group of protease inhibitors. For the most part, the book meets the editors' objectives. The biological and pharmacokinetic problems in this field are not emphasized.
Audience: The book is intended to spur development of new agents and thus is aimed at medicinal chemists and pharmaceutical chemists. The material would also be of interest to biochemists, pharmacologists, and students interested in the clinical use of protease inhibitors. Since each chapter is very specific, individuals working in selected areas may not be interested in all of the chapters. The chapter authors appear to be credible authorities on the enzymes. Their orientation appears to be more chemical than biological.
Features: The enzymes and inhibitors are grouped according to the types of catalytic activity rather than by disease or biological function. This allows a thorough discussion on structure and mechanisms. The black-and-white and color photos are well suited for this objective. The color photos help in understanding structural details. Some authors appear to oversimplify the biological background of their subject and this includes incomplete references. The first chapter on nomenclature provides the current recognized terminology, but the editors and a number of authors frequently choose to ignore it. There are some errors (page 309: "In the blood clotting cascade, aminopeptidase A appears to liberate angiotensin from angiotensin II (Chavuvel et al. 1994)."). Chapter 16 has an incomplete and thus misleading biochemical pathway for angiotensin-I metabolism. This chapter also omits reference to chymase in the production of angiotensin II (and hence a target for ACE resistance) and the potential relevance of angiotensin (1-7) in the hypotensive (and other) effects of ACE inhibitors. This appears to be due to the authors' background. It might have helped to have an overview chapter on the pharmacokinetic limitations of protease inhibitors.
Assessment: As in any multiauthored book, this one shows a wide variation in quality and orientation in the various chapters. It should appeal to medicinal and pharmaceutical chemists with an interest in specific enzyme targets. Information on the structural features of these enzymes and inhibitors ultimately must be complemented by more detailed analysis of the biological problems associated with the use of enzyme inhibitors as therapeutic agents.