From Artemisinin to New Artemisinin Antimalarials: Biosynthesis, Extraction, Old and New Derivatives, Stereochemistry and Medicinal Chemistry Requirements

Author(s): Richard K. Haynes.

Journal Name:Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry

Volume 6 , Issue 5 , 2006


The artemisinin derivatives, dihydroartemisinin (DHA), artesunate, atemether and arteether, are currently used for treatment of malaria in artemisinin combination therapies (ACT) with longer half-life drugs. The demand is enormous - in 2005, the estimated global demand for one such ACT alone, artemether-lumifantrine, which constitutes about 70% of all current clinically-used ACTs, is for 120 million adult treatment courses. At 0.5 gm of artemether per total dose regimen, the amount of artemisinin required is approximately 114 tons. This has placed substantial stress on total artemisinin supplies world-wide, and considerable attention is being focussed on enhancing availability of artemisinin by improvement in horticultural practice and extraction of artemisinin from Artemisia annua. Artemisinic acid, which also occurs in A. annua, can be converted into artemisinin and is the ultimate target of a biotechnological approach, which if successful, will augment artemisinin supply in the future. The conversion of artemisinin into the known artemisinin derivatives, and problems with the methods are critically reviewed. Some attention is paid to mechanistic aspects which clarify stereochemistry. The current artemisinins are by no means ideal drugs. Artesunate in particular is incompatible with basic quinolines by virtue of proton transfer, and has intrinsic chemical instability. At pH 1.2, conversion to DHA is rapid, with t1/2 26 min, and at pH 7.4, t1/2 is about 10 hours. With a pKa of 4.6, over 99% of artesunate will be ionized at pH 7.4, and thus uptake by passive diffusion from the intestinal tract will be minimal. Although a considerable effort has been vested in the search for new artemisinins, largely through functionalization of artemisinin at C-10, O-11 or at C-15 via artemisitene, or of DHA at C-10, deliberate enhancement of the druggability of artemisinins by reducing lipophilicity, which at the same time will attenuate the neurotoxicity characteristic of the current derivatives, and enhance absorption, by and large has not been considered. A review of the various types of newer derivatives is given together with a consideration of medicinal chemistry aspects.

Keywords: fluorinated artemisinin derivatives, Artesunate, Dihydroartemisinin, farnesyl pyrophophosphate, Artemisia annua

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Article Details

Year: 2006
Page: [509 - 537]
Pages: 29
DOI: 10.2174/156802606776743129
Price: $58