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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Organic Chemistry