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J Med Chem. 2000 Jul 13;43(14):2731-7.

Antineoplastic agents. 443. Synthesis of the cancer cell growth inhibitor hydroxyphenstatin and its sodium diphosphate prodrug.

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Cancer Research Institute and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 872404, Tempe, Arizona 85287-2404, USA.


A structure-activity relationship (SAR) study of the South African willow tree (Combretum caffrum) antineoplastic constituent combretastatin A-4 (3b) led to the discovery of a potent cancer cell growth inhibitor designated phenstatin (5a). This benzophenone derivative of combretastatin A-4 showed remarkable antineoplastic activity, and the benzophenone derivative of combretastatin A-1 was therefore synthesized. The benzophenone, designated hydroxyphenstatin (6a), was synthesized by coupling of a protected bromobenzene and a benzaldehyde to give the benzhydrol with subsequent oxidation to the ketone. Hydroxyphenstatin was converted to the sodium phosphate prodrug (6e) by a dibenzyl phosphite phosphorylation and subsequent benzyl cleavage (6a --> 6d --> 6e). While hydroxyphenstatin (6a) was a potent inhibitor of tubulin polymerization with activity comparable to that of combretastatin A-1 (3a), the phosphorylated derivative (6e) was inactive.

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